Tell the Whole Story: Audio Description on TV

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Audio Description: Tell the Whole Story

Vision Australia’s ‘Tell the Whole Story’ campaign is our bid to get the Australian Government to put audio description on Australian television so it can be enjoyed by the 384,000 people who are blind or have low vision. 

Audio Description Working Group

In April 2017, the Australian Government announced a working group that will investigate how audio-described programs can be delivered on Australian television.

The working group will include members from the broadcasting and streaming industries, audio description service providers and consumer representatives.

What we want government to do

Vision Australia and the blindness and low vision sector are calling for the Australian Government to:

  • Make amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 to require a minimum of 14 hours per week of audio-described content on all free-to-air and pay TV networks; and
  • Ensure that the ABC maintain audio-described content on iview.

Learn more about audio description

Audio description explained

Audio description fills in the gaps for viewers with vision impairment or those who find it difficult to understand the visual content.

It is a verbal narrative that is delivered via a separate track to the main television program and takes advantage of natural pauses in the program dialogue to describe facial expressions, scenery, action sequences that have no dialogue, and other visual aspects.

To get a sense of how audio description works and how it enhances a viewer’s experience watch this non-audio described version of the trailer for ‘Frozen’ with your eyes shut. Then watch this audio-described version of the trailer. Feel the difference?

The importance of audio description

Audio description provides people who are blind or have low vision with access to television, in much the same way that captioning provides access for the deaf community.

Australia is behind many other developed and developing countries in providing audio description on free-to-air television. For example, in the United Kingdom, people who are blind or have low vision can watch Home and Away with audio description. It’s a shame that Australians can’t share the same experience.

Audio description has been available on American television since the late 1980s. Since then it has been introduced in many European countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, Thailand, Japan, and South Korea.

Without audio description people who are blind or have low vision face social exclusion and discrimination. They are unable to participate in the water-cooler conversations at their workplace or talk to those they watch television with, especially their own children, about what they’re watching.

We think it’s past time Australia got with the program. We’ve been advocating for audio description for a long time. Find out more.

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