Audio description in Australia

There are approximately 600,000 people in Australia who are blind, vision impaired or can benefit from using audio description (H. Taylor, J. Keeffe, H. Vu, J. Wang, E. Rochtchina, P. Mitchell and M. Pezzullo 2005, ‘Vision Loss in Australia’, Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 182 no.11, pp. 565-568). Audio description has also been found to benefit people with an autism spectrum disorder (Garman, J. 2011, ‘Autism spectrum, captions and audio description’, Mindful Research).

AD is currently being rolled out to Australian cinemas and is already available on around 40% of DVDs released in Australia.

ABC1 Trial in 2012 including Report

In August 2012, the ABC commenced a 13-week technical trial of audio description (AD) on ABC1 that aimed to assess the technical challenges of delivering AD in Australia. This was the first time that AD was made available on television for over 600,000 Australians who are blind, vision impaired or can benefit from the service.

At the end of 2012, the ABC reported on the trial to the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy to inform the Government’s decision for an ongoing service. The report will include factors such as resourcing needed for a permanent service, response to the trial and the impact on existing technologies, such as televisions and set-top boxes.

Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has acknowledged that AD is strongly desired by the Australian vision impaired community and has stated that the Department will work closely with interested parties to address issues and work towards establishing a permanent AD service on Australian TV.

Read Senator Conroy’s media release supporting a continued AD service on TV.

Campaign organisations have published a report highlighting the consumer experience of the AD trial and informing Government’s thinking regarding the introduction of a permanent AD service:

For further information about how audio described TV is delivered visit Media Access Australia.