Lack of audio description a breach of human rights

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Wednesday, 10 July 2013 09:56am

Blind Citizens Australia (BCA) yesterday lodged 21 disability discrimination complaints against the Federal Government and the ABC for failing to provide an audio description service on television.

Audio description is the descriptive narration of a TV program or other media, making them accessible for the blind and vision impaired. It was successfully trailed on ABC1 between August and November last year, with 14 hours of programs broadcast with audio description each week for 13 weeks. After its completion, the then Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Senator Stephen Conroy, said, “It’s clear that audio description is a service that is strongly desired by the vision impaired community and the trial was embraced with real enthusiasm by participants.”

During the trial, a campaign by BCA, Vision Australia and ACCAN to keep it going beyond its scheduled end date saw 30,000 postcards delivered to Senator Conroy and the ABC’s Managing Director, Mark Scott. The groups are now calling for a resumption of the trial so that technical issues can continue to be addressed, in preparation for the introduction of a regular service.

Greg Madson, vice-president of BCA, said, “These complaints reflect our member’s concerns that the Federal Government is not meeting their obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“We call on the new Minister for Communications, Broadband and the Digital Economy, the Hon. Anthony Albanese to take the lead on this issue and make a commitment to the continuation of audio description on Australian television”.

BCA is inviting others to submit their own complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission.

For more information, see BCA’s media release.

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