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ABC and SBS Plan to Introduce Live Audio Description Services Later This Year

3D rendering smartphone with display emitting neon violet pink blue holographic symbol of audio description icon icon on dark background with blurred reflection

The Australian Broadcasting Company (ABC) and the Special Broadcasting Service (SBS) have been given $2 million of Federal Government funding to provide Audio Description (AD) services from 1 July 2020.

Audio Description is a service that assists people who are blind or low vision to enjoy content such as television, theatre, or movies and provides verbal commentary to a program. It describes essential visual elements within the soundtrack of the program and explains things like settings, backgrounds, costumes, and actions.

Low vision and blind organisations such as the Royal Society for the Blind have welcomed the funding announcement.

Tony Starkey from the Royal Society for the Blind (RSB) says Audio Description “enhances the experiences of what you would understand [about the program].”

Highlighting the importance of AD he adds, “…all people should have the same access for when they are watching TV.”

AD is currently only available in Australia with online streaming services such as Netflix and Stan offering it for select titles. However, it is available in countries like the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand. The funding for the ABC and SBS was announced before Christmas by Federal Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP.

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