Audio description

What is media access?

Media access refers to how digital, web and broadcast content can be used, read or viewed by people with disabilities, particularly those who are blind, vision impaired, Deaf, hearing impaired, or who have a cognitive condition or mobility disability. This includes the provision of effective access to websites, online information, digital communications, streaming services and broadcast television, as well as access in the classroom, cinema and the arts.


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Policy and expectations

By the end of 2014 the major cinema chains of Hoyts, Village, Event, and Reading cinemas had rolled out around 240 accessible screens across 130 cinemas around the country. This was part of the Commonwealth Government’s Cinema Access Implementation Plan  that saw every major chain cinema complex in the country have accessibility services on at least one screen per venue.


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Find accessible movie sessions online

The major cinema chains of Hoyts, Event, Village and Reading should have closed captions (CC) and audio description (AD) available at all locations across Australia, with open captions (OC) available at select major and independent locations and AD and CC available at New South Wales and Victorian Palace Cinema locations. Finding movie sessions which have these features can be difficult. Here is our step-by-step guide to finding movie sessions with CC, OC and AD on each major cinema website.

A few things to remember:


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Audio description in the arts

Audio description in museums & galleries

Visitors to some of Australia's museums and galleries are able to access the visual exhibits through audio guides. They are commonly used for foreign language translation but have evolved into same-language guides to provide further background information on exhibits, and description for visitors who are blind or vision impaired, as well as able-sighted people who want to hear the full story.


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Captioning, audio description and transcription suppliers

Media Access Australia does not provide captioning, transcribing or audio description services. However, there are a number of access suppliers that provide these services for video, TV, events, websites and online broadcasting in Australia.


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Government forms Working Group on AD for TV

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The Turnbull Government has set up a new taskforce with the aim of improving TV accessibility. They have announced the formation of an Audio Description (AD) Working Group to examine options for increasing the availability of AD services in Australia.

Man wearing headphones listens to AD on TV

Man wearing headphones listens to AD on TV


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New report on the trial of A.D. on ABC iview

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Media Access Australia was one of seven leading advocacy organisations that have just tabled a report, including consumer feedback, perspectives and analysis, of the Government-funded trial of Audio Description (AD) on the ABC's iview service, from April 2015 to July 2016.

Image of Audio Description

Image of Audio Description


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Screenworks host CC and AD workshop to educate filmmakers

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As part of the accessibility focus of Screenworks, they will be holding a Closed Captioning (CC) and Audio Description (AD) workshop next month, with the aim of educating filmmakers on the importance and simplicity of accessibility methods.

Screenworks logo

According to Ken Crouch, General Manager of this Northern Rivers NSW based not-for-profit organisation, the seminar aims to “raise the quality of closed captioning and audio description across the film industry.”


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Governments are toughening up on public sector web accessibility

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State and Federal Governments around the globe are toughening up on public sector web accessibility. The latest case is the Alaskan Juneau School District, which felt the wrath of that state’s Government because of a complaint from the public that their websites aren’t inclusive for all needs.

close up of a man writing on some documents

After receiving the disability discrimination complaint, Alaskan authorities undertook a rigorous investigation and found out that ten other schools, educational groups, and institutions (including the Montana School for the Deaf and blind) also had accessibility issues on their websites.


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Channel 4 seeks viewer feedback about its accessibility services

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Channel 4 has created a survey to capture as much feedback as possible from people who view their programming with captions (subtitles in the UK), audio description, signing on TV, or on the station’s on-demand service.

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