Making access work in the New World

Wednesday, 12 August 2015 14:20pm

Access to media through audio description and captioning is well established through most of Europe, North America and the English-speaking world. However, the situation in other parts of the globe is very mixed. Reporting in Australia is, not suprisingly, biased towards English language developments and advances. What is happening in other parts of the world, especially in Asia?

Globe of the world with Asia in focus

A feature session at the Media for All conference being held at the University of Western Sydney from 17-18 September is Making access work in the New World. Chaired by Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley, the panel will explore how global accessibility impacts on the non-English speaking world. In particular:

  • How the media industry is moving to a global approach to content and production.
  • International media’s business model works on uniformity, controlled localisation (e.g. language, dubbing, graphics).
  • Access (including captioning, audio description, sign language, subtitles) is part of that global approach.
  • Differing access regulations (from stringent quotas and standards to no quotas or standards) impact on this in different countries.
  • Can/do local standards survive in this global environment?
  • Does technology help this process?
  • What is the impact of the New World, particularly population powerhouses India (Bollywood) and China on these access approaches?

“I really want to explore whether the international business model of media access does really work when you take into account other languages, emerging technology and cultural differences,” said Varley.

“Approaches in the New World have developed in some isolation, mainly due to language and technology issues, but what we will discuss is the practical, real-world issues that are impacting on this.”

The panel is made up of a range of world experts. Mark Harrison from Viacom International Media Networks in the UK has extensive experience in rolling out accessible programming to global markets. From the University of Hong Kong is Professor Gilbert Fong who will provide a deep insight into approaches that are being taken in Hong Kong and mainland China. Amer Al Adwan, Assistant Professor, Translation and Interpreting Institute, Hamad bin Khalifa University in Qatar, will look at the Middle-East and Arabic language perspectives.  Finally, there is Wendy Youens who runs the New Zealand organisation Able NZ that provides the captioning and audio description for New Zealand’s television services.


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