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Vision impaired people deserve the full picture

A call to have free-to-air television networks broadcast audio descriptions for their programs has been endorsed by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists.

RANZCO sees the need for reform so that vision-impaired people can derive much more enjoyment from television programming and gain access to much more news and current affairs information.

For a long time, captions have been provided for viewers with hearing impairment and the technology is available to offer a similar opportunity for those whose sight is curtailed.

The initiative has been supported by the Australian Senate which says audio description should be generally available. The senate accepted the proposition that TV viewing for those with impaired sight can provide greater stimulation for their imagination and enrich the experience of what is being broadcast.

While hearing-impaired people gained a new experience with captions decades ago, pleas by sight-impaired viewers have fallen on deaf ears. Those affected protest that they cannot share experiences with their children or take part in one of our most common recreational activities with friends and family.

Audio description is a second audio track that can be turned on and off. It describes the important visual elements of a television program – such as actions, scene changes, gestures and facial expressions – that a person who is blind or has low vision can’t see.

Countries such as the UK, the US, Ireland, Germany, Spain and New Zealand already provide audio description on free-to-air or subscription television.

RANZCO encourages Australians to sign a petition organised by Vision Australia in support of this campaign.

For more information or to arrange an interview contact Emma Carr or Josie Faunce at RANZCO on 02 9690 1001 and

Last updated: December 10, 2018

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