Audio description will now feature on ABC and SBS television programs making content more accessible for people who are blind or vision impaired.
The verbal narration that complements the soundtrack of a television program is now available across both networks, including ABC1, ABC Kids/Comedy, ABC ME, SBS and SBS Viceland.
Australian content includes Who Do You Think You Are?, Hungry Ghosts, Back Roads, Australian Story, Bluey and Play School, and will deliver on average 14 hours of weekly programming. These broaden the variety and availability of content and builds on what is already available on streaming services such as Stan, Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+.
Minister for Communication Paul Fletcher said audio description is a necessary innovation for the national broadcasters and brings Australia into line with other free-to-air television services in English speaking nations in the OECD.
“As our national broadcasters, it is important that the ABC and SBS provide greater accessibility to content for Australians who are blind or have vision impairment so that they can better experience television programs,” he said.
Blind Citizens Australia CEO, Emma Bennison welcomed the introduction of AD. “BCA and other blindness organisations have worked closely with both the ABC and SBS to facilitate the rollout of AD,” she said. “Our community looks forward to confirmation that AD will be a permanent fixture on Australian television beyond the current 12-month funding period.”
BCA also hoped AD would ultimately be protected in legislation, in the same way that captioning is for Australians who are deaf or hard of hearing. “With the support of other blindness organisations, Australians who are blind or vision impaired and the general public, we will continue to advocate for permanent AD services on all Australian TV outlets,” Bennison said.