It is time to consider the mainstream benefits of Audio Description for film and television?

Telling it like it is: audio description in Australia

Why governments and broadcasters need to tune in to the potential of audio description

By Dr. Katie Ellis

Audio description (AD) is a track of narration describing important visual elements of a film, television show or live performance delivered between lines of dialogue to make it accessible to audiences who are blind or vision impaired.

The first instance of AD can be traced back to a radio DJ describing cinema in 1940s Spain, and it is now in widespread use on television internationally. But despite intensive lobbying by the Blindness sector and two successful trials on the ABC, it is not available on Australian broadcast television.

However, AD is finally gaining the attention of policymakers with the Greensseeking to make the trials permanent and an AD working group convened throughout 2017.

In 2015, I wrote on Policy Forum that AD should be legislated in the same way as captioning is in the Broadcasting Services Act to ensure access for people who are blind and vision impaired. According to article 30 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities (UNCRPD), the lack of AD on Australian television is a human rights violation.


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