Greens Senator calls for audio description on TV

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Tuesday, 18 August 2015 14:08pm

The Senate has supported a motion introduced by the Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert, calling on the Federal Government to amend the Broadcasting Services Act to include a requirement for all free-to-air and subscription television services to provide audio description.

Headphones with auxiliary cable cable shaped into an audio waveform

In a media release, Senator Siewert wrote, “Currently the ABC, SBS, Foxtel, and the commercial free-to-air television networks provide no audio description in Australia. With approximately 350,000 people in Australia who are blind or have low vision, this is simply not good enough.”  A trial of audio description on the ABC’s online iView service which commenced in April is “a step in the right direction but many who are blind or have low vision experience significant barriers to accessing iView”.

The Broadcasting Services Act includes mandatory levels of captioning for free-to-air and subscription services, but has no provisions for audio description. In 2012, there was a successful 13-week trial of audio description on ABC1, but this was not followed by the introduction of a regular service.

Media Access Australia CEO Alex Varley welcomed the Senate motion, and noted that “There is an information session on 8 September at Parliament House for the Federal politicians, hosted by Vision Australia with the support of other blind organisations and Media Access Australia. This is a great opportunity for them to learn more about how to implement an audio description service.”

For more information, including updates on disability discrimination complaints launched by Blind Citizens Australia and Vision Australia against TV services for not providing audio description, see the ADonTV website.

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