The Macular Degeneration Foundation welcomes the announcement that, for the first time, thousands of Australians who are blind or vision impaired will gain full access to television content and congratulates Media Access Australia and the Federal Government on this achievement.
Audio description, which adds an audio track to a program describing the visuals on-screen, is essential for blind and vision impaired people to fully understand video content. The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy has committed to 14 hours of audio-described drama and documentary content per week on ABC1 for a 13 week period.
Media Access Australia CEO, Alex Varley, endorsed the announcement, "This is great news for blind and vision impaired people. Audio description will provide access for the growing population of seniors, as vision impairment increases greatly as we age."
"Captioning has been a fundamental element of television broadcasting since the 1980s. Audio description needs the same recognition and support from the federal government," said Mr Varley.
Audio description has been introduced across New Zealand, Western Europe and North America. The announcement of the trial is a move towards bringing Australia in line with international standards. The trial will allow the ABC to iron out the technical delivery of audio description, which viewers will be able to turn on as desired.
"This is something we've been calling for, for a long time and we hope that this trial leads to a permanent commitment from Senator Conroy," said Mr Varley.
1 March 2012