Strong support for equal access to TV

More than 60 disability and consumer advocacy organisations and thousands of individuals nationwide have supported the campaign for a permanent audio description service on television.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation has just concluded the first-ever Australian trial of a television audio description service, which ran for 13 weeks on ABC1.

The “It’s As Easy As ABC” campaign saw over 30,000 postcards addressed to Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy and ABC Managing Director Mark Scott, asking them to keep the service going.

“What’s clear to us from the support for our campaign is that people who are blind or have low vision have really valued the audio description trial on ABC1. We’re pleased Senator Stephen Conroy initiated this trial and thank the ABC for making programs like ‘Rake’, ‘Doc Martin’ and ‘Agatha Christie’ accessible to all for the first time,” said campaign spokeswoman Lauren Henley from Blind Citizens Australia.

“While we’re disappointed that the trial won’t continue in the short term, we can now see a pathway forward to establishing a permanent service. We’re encouraged that Senator Conroy has acknowledged the level of support there is in the community for audio description on Australian television,” said Ms Henley.

The ABC is due to report on the 13-week trial to the Federal Government by the end of the year, including details about the resourcing required to deliver a permanent service, technical issues experienced and reaction from target audiences.

“What is clear from the trial is that people who are blind or vision impaired want access to television and new technologies have the potential to fulfil this need. There are some technical issues that need to be ironed out, but we’re hopeful that the government can work through those as quickly as possible to get audio description back on our ABC and across all television networks,” said Ms Henley.

The groups say they look forward to the ABC report being released and to working with the government to provide feedback and find solutions to some of the technical issues that arose during the trial.