SBS falls short with DVD access

Monday, 8 April 2013 15:01pm

As part of a series of home entertainment accessibility reports outside regular entertainment DVD titles, Media Access Australia has collated information around the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) and its level of DVD accessibility, showing whether its titles have closed captions and audio description.

In looking into the accessibility of DVDs of programs previously broadcast, it is noteworthy that audio description is not yet broadcast on television as part of a full time service, but captioning has been mandatory under the Broadcasting Services Act for many years. With this in mind, it is perhaps not surprising that the level of audio description on SBS titles is very low at 1%.

What is surprising, though, is that of the SBS DVD titles researched – 105 in total – only 46 were released with either closed captions or English subtitles, providing varied forms of access to the Deaf and hearing impaired of only 44%.

Research of past TV broadcast guides has shown that a minimum of 82 of the same 105 programs (or 78%) were shown with closed captions or English subtitles. This highlights a discrepancy between the number of programs broadcast with closed captions or English subtitles and the number released without this feature.

The research was conducted at a local JB Hi-Fi store by recording the information on the back of DVD covers available in the SBS section. This replicates how the general public would find information about accessibility of titles.

Of the 105 titles researched:

  • 46 (or 44%) were accessible to the Deaf and hearing impaired
    • 29 (or 28%) were closed captioned
    • 17 (or 16%) were English subtitled
  • 1 (or 1%) was accessible to blind and vision impaired.

This information has been provided to SBS, the Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (of which SBS’s main distributor, Madman, is a member), the Australian Human Rights Commission and disability consumer groups.

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