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Canadian coalition creates Access 2020


A coalition of Canadian accessibility organisations has formed to achieve full captioning and audio description on television content in Canada by 2020. The aptly named Access 2020 will use the CRTC (the Canadian media regulator) hearings into vertical integration in May 2011 as the starting point for this new policy approach.

Access 2020 is taking the view that 1% of TV ownership transactions from now until 2015 should be spent on accessibility research, standards development and third-party monitoring of access.  The crux of the argument is that media organisations gain significant benefits from being allowed to vertically integrate, and consumers should also receive benefits, including proper disability access. 

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Captions in the arts

Using captions allows a wider range of people to enjoy the theatre experience. Essential for the 4.5 million Australians who are Deaf or hearing impaired, captions are also beneficial for children and those who speak English as a second language.

Captions can also be useful for hearing theatre patrons, especially when the performance involves dialects or strong accents, when words are being sung or when actors are speaking and singing off-stage.

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Online complaints about DVD accessibility

The Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA) has released a DVD accessibility framework document, affirming its commitment to making available access features such as captioning and audio description.

AHEDA responds on behalf of members to complaints about accessibility of specific DVD titles where access features were available overseas and not in Australia.

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US communications regulator requests caption feedback

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has asked the public to provide feedback on the need to revise its caption rules. This follows an earlier consultation process, conducted in 2005, which resulted in a revision of the caption complaint process, and required television stations to make contact information easily available for consumers who wish to complain about problems with captions.

The FCC notes that a number of developments have taken place since the last invitation for feedback, called a ‘Notice of Proposed Rulemaking’, was issued. These include the achievement of many of the FCC’s caption benchmarks, the switch from analog to digital television in the US, and advances in captioning technology including speech-to-text (or voice recognition) technology.

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