Frequently asked questions on DVD & Blu-ray

We've listed some popular questions concerning DVDs and Blu-ray discs, both of which are still widely used, and provided answers to try and assist you.

How do I watch a DVD or Blu-ray with access features?

Where can I buy or rent a DVD or Blu-ray with access features?

Do I need any special equipment to watch access features on a DVD or Blu-ray disc?

Can I bypass the complicated menu system to automatically play the DVD with audio description?

Do all DVDs and Blu-ray discs have access features?

Are TV series that are released to DVD or Blu-ray accessible?

If I buy a title from an international website, such as Amazon, can I watch it with access features on my DVD player in Australia?

How is the Australian DVD industry involved in increasing access to Region 4 releases?

How do I watch a DVD or Blu-ray with access features?

Watch this captioned instructional video which takes you through the steps for both captions and audio description.

Where can I buy or rent accessible DVDs and Blu-Ray?

Accessible DVDs and Blu-Ray can be rented from video outlets or bought from any retailer, such as Myer, Target, JB Hi-fi etc. As accessible titles are not a specialist service, every copy of a title will have closed captions and audio description if the distributor provides these features.

They can also be rented from DVD kiosks, such as Oovie, Red Room and MovieMate which are often located in or outside shopping centres. Although a DVD and Blu-Ray will list its accessibility features on the cover, DVD kiosks may or may not list these details as part of the title’s information.

Do I need any special equipment to watch access features on a DVD or Blu-ray disc?

No and yes.  For DVD, just a standard DVD player will do and these will access all the features on the menu. For Blu-ray, a specialised Blu-ray player will be required. This may be a standalone unit or a Sony PS3. It is expected that the Nintendo Wii2, due out in 2011, will also play Blu-ray discs.

Can I bypass the complicated menu system to automatically play the DVD with audio description?

Yes you can. Most modern DVD player remote controls come with an Audio button. By simply inserting the disc and pressing Enter until the disc begins to play, you may then press the Audio button and listen for the audio description to begin. This may take a few presses. The Audio button takes you through each language option on the disc, of which, audio description is one.

Do all DVDs and Blu-ray discs have audio description and captioning?

No. Generally you will find these access features on the majority of ‘Hollywood blockbuster’ movies, but the less popular the movie (which is often seen by the smaller number of copies on the shelves) the less likely the movie is to have access features. Access feature rates for both formats of new release rental titles are around 55 per cent for captioning and 25 per cent for audio description. Read more on access statistics on our statistics page.

Are TV series that are released to DVD or Blu-ray accessible?

As a general rule, more TV series have captions than movie releases, but less TV series have audio description than movie releases.

If I buy a title from an international website, such as Amazon, can I watch it with access features on my DVD player in Australia?

That will depend on a number of things. Firstly, you should be aware that DVDs are encoded with a regional code. This allows the distribution companies control over aspects of the release internationally, including content, price and release date. Some DVD players will play DVDs from all regions, but some may only play DVDs from the region where the player was bought. Australia is in Region 4. Read more about region coding on this page.

You may also find that some DVDs from Region 1 may be advertised as closed captioned, but you may not be able to access them on your player. This may be due to a different production method used by Region 1 distributors when it comes to placing the captions on the disc.

How is the Australian DVD industry involved in increasing access to Region 4 releases?

The Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA) has worked with Media Access Australia and the Australian Human Rights Commission since 2006 to increase access to titles released by its member companies. This has seen the adoption of industry-wide logos and terminologies for the cover artwork, and a concerted education process to ensure all distributors are importing access features on titles from international sources. Read more about AHEDA's accessibility framework.


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Tags: TV & video