Canadian access coalition calls for 100% accessibility by 2020

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Monday, 17 January 2011 10:02am

The Access 2020 Coalition has sought the support of the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) for its new Access Initiative to assist broadcasters to become accessible to all Canadians who are Deaf, hearing impaired, blind or vision impaired.

The initiative would see 1% of all TV ownership transactions from 2010 to 2015 allocated to a not-for-profit fund that would finance the transition to complete accessibility on all distribution platforms.

“The tools to make TV accessible were invented more than thirty years ago,” said Beverley Milligan, the CEO of Media Access Canada, which is spearheading the Coalition. “Yet only 3% of the programs aired by TV stations are described for blind, partially sighted or low-vision people, captioning errors in captioning make many programs impossible to watch, and the TV content that is so widely available online or through mobile telephones is not accessible at all.”

The proposed fund would be allocated to accessibility research including the development of standards and would also monitor the progression towards full accessibility in terms of captioning and audio description.

In September 2010 BCE, Canada’s largest communications company, announced plans to acquire 100% of CTV, the country’s largest privately owned TV network. Media Access Canada, on behalf of the Access 2020 Coalition, has lodged a submission with the CRTC, expressing concern that BCE’s application to acquire the network does not address accessibility issues. The submission calls on the CRTC to endorse the coalition’s Access Initiative, amend the current definition of Canadian programs to include criteria related to accessibility, and recommend that the Minister of Heritage directs the Canadian Media Fund to ensure that the television programs it funds are fully accessible.

For more information, see the Media Access Canada website.

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