Digital TV

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Government to provide free accessible set-top boxes

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Senator Stephen Conroy, Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, has announced that talking set-top boxes will be distributed to blind and vision impaired people as part of the Household Assistance Scheme being co-ordinated by his department’s Digital Switchover Taskforce.

Senator Conroy made the announcement during a radio interview with Robyn Gaile, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia, on the New Horizons program, which is broadcast on Radio for the Print Handicapped and community radio stations across Australia.

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Audio description for mobile phones delayed in the US


The Federal Communications Commission has agreed to a request by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) that the introduction of an audio description service for mobile digital TV be delayed until October 2013.

The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 reinstated audio description quotas for television. The main television services will have to comply with this by 1 July 2012, delivering the service on a second audio channel on set-top boxes. The NAB argued that introducing audio description for mobile TV will be more difficult, as mobile receivers will need to be modified to receive the service.

The TVTechnology website includes commentary on the issue.

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Signed and captioned videos released to assist hearing impaired switch to digital


The Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, has announced the release of 16 videos with Australian Sign Language (AUSLAN) and captions, which will help the Deaf and hearing impaired make the switch to digital television.

The videos, released as part of Hearing Awareness Week, give practical information about subjects such as connecting set-top boxes and recording digital television, as well as support services such as the Household Assistance Scheme. 

“The Gillard Government wants to ensure all members of the community receive the information they need about the switch to digital TV which is happening progressively across Australia between 2010 and 2013,” said Senator Conroy.

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UK: Audio description now mandatory on Freeview TV receivers


All new HD digital set top boxes and integrated digital TVs sold in the UK will now have to receive audio description to qualify for approval by Freeview (the trademark for free-to-air digital TV services).

"This is great news for blind and partially sighted people, as AD was always an optional feature available on some digital TVs and set top boxes,” said Raheel Malick, Development Officer (Digital Media) at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).

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