Report looks at television access levels across Europe

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Friday, 17 January 2014 14:49pm

A major report commissioned by the European Commission has found that levels of captioning, audio description and signing on television vary widely across Europe, and are highest in countries which have introduced legal or regulatory obligations. 

The Study on Assessing and Promoting E-Accessibility looked at accessibility levels in three areas – web, telecoms, and television – in the 27 member states of the European Union (EU), along with four comparison countries, Australia, Norway, Canada and the US.  For each country, the study looked at two public broadcasters and two commercial broadcasters.

In some EU countries, such as the UK, France, and Slovenia, captioning levels are at or close to 100%, while others have no more than a single captioned news program per day. As might be expected, the average share of captioned programs was found to be higher on the two public broadcasters (56% and 61%) than the two commercial broadcasters (44% and 48%). By comparison, the figures for Australia were 90% and 95% for the public broadcasters, and 85% for the commercial broadcasters.

Levels of signing and audio description were much lower than captioning. The UK has the highest levels of these, but many countries do not offer either. Only 10 EU member countries offer all three access services.

The report concludes that, while some progress has been made in making television accessible in EU member countries, much work remains to be done. It recommends the establishment of a European-level mechanism to provide guidance to member states and regulatory bodies so that access levels can be improved overall.

Media Access Australia’s web accessibility service, Access iQ, has produced a summary of the report’s findings on web accessibility. Also, in the coming months we will publish our white paper on how caption quality is measured in various countries.

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