MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR COMMUNICATIONS
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
LAUNCH OF AUDIO DESCRIPTION ON ABC AND SBS
Labor welcomes announcements from the ABC, SBS and Government today that Labor’s policy of providing the public broadcasters with funding to introduce audio description of television for blind and low-vision Australians has been implemented.
Now blind and low-vision adults and children are able to enjoy some of their favourite programs along with their sighted family, friends and colleagues.
Labor is a longstanding supporter of equality of access to television in Australia and it is shameful that it took this Liberal Government almost seven years to deliver on this human rights issue.
Only six months after funding was announced, audio description of television on the public broadcasters is now a reality. It is clear that blind and low vision Australians should not have had to wait so long.
While the Minister enthuses about audio description on overseas-based streaming services like Netflix, Disney+ and Apple TV+ the fact remains that broadcast television is still the most popular medium for older Australians, and older Australians and those with disability are less likely to have access to the internet and digital technology.
The Morrison Government remains silent on a plan for a framework and timetable to implement audio description on other television and streaming services in Australia.
The Morrison Government is also persisting with ABC budget cuts and it is unclear whether the funding committed is a one-off or whether additional funding for the ongoing cost of providing audio description will be provided.
Until now Australia was the only English-speaking nation in the OECD not to offer audio-description on free-to-air television.
While this announcement is a step in the right direction, Australia still lags behind on audio description and it is well past time that blind and low vision Australians received a fair go.
MONDAY, 22 JUNE 2020