Entertainment and media

NZ On Air responds to the needs of blind and vision-impaired television viewers

Blind Citizens NZ congratulates NZ On Air for recognising the significance of television as both a social and cultural medium in the lives of blind and vision impaired people. The injection of an additional $400k will make a significant difference to the amount of audio described content available for blind and vision impaired viewers and, captioning for the Deaf and hard of hearing.

Read on to find out more about the need for increased audio described programme content for New Zealand's blind and vision impaired television viewers.

Review of the Panasonic TH-L55DT60Z Television Voice Guidance Features in Aotearoa New Zealand

  • Paul Brown
  • September 2013

Panasonic New Zealand loaned one of their new Viera televisions for members of Blind Citizens New Zealand Auckland branch to try out. I have had the television for a few weeks to test its functions and to write this brief review. It is great to have some new features that talk on the TV, and I do hope that this technology continues to be developed so that TV can become even more accessible in the future.

Audio Description Now Available on Sky

Since late October 2012, Sky Television has included audio description in its broadcasts of TVNZ One and Two. This is available to all Sky customers with no need for new equipment and no need to change your Sky plan. This is a very significant development as it brings audio description on TVNZ One and Two directly to the many New Zealanders that are Sky subscribers.

Audio Description on TVNZ Now Close to 20 hours per week

The latest news from TVNZ is that they are now averaging about 20 hours per week of audio described programming. This is amazing given how quietly the service started in just March last year. The two regular popular programmes with audio description are Coronation Street on TV One and Shortland Street on TV Two. A variety of other films and programmes are also being described including programmes made in New Zealand.

An Update on audio Description on New Zealand Television - Now Twelve Months On

One year has passed since the first broadcast of audio description went to air in New Zealand. Yes it was Coronation Street, broadcast with audio description on the first of March 2011. For the first few months, that was the only programme available with audio description. But things have advanced quite a bit since then.

Launching Our Brief on Audio Description

At a Parliamentary function hosted by the Minister for Culture and Heritage, Hon Chris Finlayson, on 11 July, we launched our "brief" on audio description.

Being unable to follow body language, activity, scenery, facial expression, clothing and manner of dress etc, blind, deafblind and vision impaired people benefit from audio description because it provides a commentary on these aspects of the visual experience. Audio description has existed for more than 15 years and can be regarded as the equivalent of captioning for the deaf and hearing impaired.

A sentence paints a thousand pictures - so what's it sound like?

This briefing document is a supplement to the Great Barrier Brief and calls on the Government and entertainment industry to fully embrace audio description as a means of making entertainment more accessible to blind and vision impaired people. Reference is made in particular to audio description on television, at the movies, and in live theatre and live art displays.

Can someone tell me what actually happened at the end of last night's Coro Street?

An odd question perhaps but one that is not altogether unusual in lunch rooms around the country. Why? Because if one of the staff in the lunch room is blind, there's a good chance that, like most of us it seems, they are a fan of the street. And somehow that programme is designed in such a way that it tries to end on a dramatic note that all too often is conveyed only through visual action. All you hear is a crash or a shout or a groan or whatever it might be, or just someone looking suspiciously at something from a distance, and just when you're trying to work out what happens, on comes that familiar tune to tell you that you'll have to wait until next time to find out. Sighted people of course will probably have seen what happened.

But New Zealand took a small but still very significant step forward on 1 March this year with the first broadcast of audio description on television.

It's Official - Audio Description is Coming Soon to TVNZ

For a few years now, the Association has been pushing for the introduction of audio description into New Zealand television. Our old analog system of television broadcasting does not lend itself to audio description, so we have had to go without while we knew that blind people in many other countries have had at least some audio described television for more than twenty years. Some countries now mandate a minimum number of hours a week that all major broadcasters must provide.

But now with the Freeview digital TV service up and running in New Zealand, we believe it is possible.

Audio Described Television Welcomed by New Zealand's Blind Audience

Media release issued to acknowledge Government's announcement of funding to introduce audio description into New Zealand television.

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