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ABC expands Audio Description service to ABC iview

Blind man wearing earphones listening news

The ABC announced the expansion of audio descriptions to ABC iview, enabling audiences who are blind or have low vision to enjoy their favourite on-demand shows, movies and news in a more inclusive way.

Audio descriptions provide a richer and more immersive experience by offering auditory narrations of visual elements during programming.

With the allocation of dedicated funding in 2020, the ABC launched an audio description service across the broadcast television network. Since then, this commitment has been vital for audiences who are blind or have low vision. In the 2021-22 financial year, the ABC broadcast 1260 hours of unique audio-description content including many premiere events or first-possible releases, across broadcast multi-channels.

Today the audio description service was launched on ABC iview where more than 100 titles (over 1000 hours of audio described content) are available across iOS (iPhone/iPad), Chromecast and Android devices making programs such as Bluey, Fisk, Muster Dogs, Four Corners, Australian Story, The Newsreader and Mystery Road more accessible to more Australians.  In the last budget, ongoing money for audio description services was incorporated in the ABC base funding.

​The ABC welcomes the bipartisan support that has allowed it to provide and expand audio description services.

​“The expansion of audio described content to ABC iview reflects our commitment to delivering world-class content that’s accessible to all Australians,” ABC Managing Director David Anderson said.  “Television provides access to a very important aspect of cultural and social life. We are committed to providing inclusive content and services that cater to the diverse needs of our audience, on-demand — ensuring that everyone have access to high-quality ABC content whenever and however they choose.’’

​The ABC is proud to partner with a number of community organisations, who are helping raise awareness about AD content on ABC iview within their networks – including Vision Australia, Vision 2020, Guide Dogs Australia, Blind Citizens Australia, Attitude Foundation, Access2Arts, Accessible Arts, Can:Do 4 Kids and Visability.

ABC audio descriptions campaign ambassador Nas Campanella, said that Audio description has been a game changer, enabling her to consume her favourite shows more independently.

“Previously I had to rely on someone to tell me what is happening on screen and hope that someone was free and willing to watch a particular show with me,’’ she said. “The level of detail I received about facial expressions, actions or costumes on screen was dependent on what that person felt I needed to know. It was frustrating. If I watched a show alone and there were sections with no dialogue, I simply missed out on those often important details. It certainly impacted my enjoyment of a show.

“Audio description allows me to have equal access to the same information and finer details as everyone else. And it means I can contribute to those water cooler conversations with family, friends, and colleagues like everyone else.”

According to the latest ABC and SBS Audio Description survey, 95% of people who are blind or have low vision are engaging with video every day or most days. One in three people who are blind or have low vision are engaging with content with audio descriptions.

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