Alongside Audio Description, on this blog we have often highlighted the increasing popularity of audio in general. For example, Australia’s recent audio festival and the practice of ‘audiobooking’ Netflix shows.
This trend appears to have spread to social media, as a recent ABC article explores the growth of audio-only platform Clubhouse in the context of the pandemic.
Clubhouse is a drop-in audio chat hub that describes itself as “a new type of social network based on voice—where people around the world come together to talk, listen and learn from each other in real-time.” Currently invite-only, the platform has been gaining momentum as more and more people join up.
In an age of working from home, where furniture outlets are selling fake bookshelves to make people look good on Zoom calls, audio-only is a relief.
In a media
release published yesterday the Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety
and the Arts announced that the Australian Government will provide $2 million each
to the ABC and SBS to introduce audio description on broadcast television.
The Hon Paul Fletcher MP explained that “as a result of this funding, the national broadcasters are expected to begin offering audio description services to audiences by 1 July 2020.”
This is a huge development for blind and vision impaired viewers,
audio describers, activists and researchers who have been working towards the provision
of audio description on free-to-air television in Australia.
In response to the news, Emma Bennison, CEO of Blind
Citizens Australia (BCA) states that:
“This is a fantastic step forward for Australians who are blind or vision impaired. BCA has been campaigning for AD since 1996 and more recently, organisations across the blindness sector have joined with us to highlight the human right of people who are blind or vision impaired to watch television with family and friends.’
Australian Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John also responded
positively, with a note of caution regarding the extent of the funding:
“Whilst this is a huge win for our blind and vision-impaired communities, it is disappointing to see that this government has not committed to requiring commercial free-to-air television stations to provide audio description as well.
“The commercial stations – Channel’s Seven, Nine, Ten and Sky – are now on notice. The technology is readily available and cheap, and the community expects them to follow suit and make sure their content is accessible to blind and visually-impaired Australians!’
“This funding injection is fantastic news for Australian television audiences who are blind and vision impaired. Many shows screened on Australian television are already audio described but the broadcasters lacked the technology to make these tracks available. This $4 million will propel Australian broadcasting forward and in this era of personalised television who knows how audiences will make use of this accessibility feature.
“The Australian government should be applauded for their support of audio described public broadcasting. There is no reason why the commercial broadcasters can’t begin providing this feature too.’
Research conducted through this website has
shown that both disabled and nondisabled people agree when it comes to
accessible television; everyone who participated in our focus groups thought that
free-to-air TV should be audio described and available to all.
Importantly, yesterday’s press release notes that “the Government will not prescribe the way in which the ABC and SBS deliver audio description services.” Questions regarding standards and modes of delivery are thus left open to further research and discussion, as broadcasters begin to determine how they will implement these changes next year. Past and current research into audience reception and different styles of audio description will be pivotal in ensuring the services provided by the ABC and SBS are effective.
We will continue to report on these issues as the national broadcasters move to implement audio description in the New Year.
For now, it’s wonderful to celebrate good news as 2019 comes to an end!
Good news for comedy fans: the second season of ABC’s morning show parody Get Krack!n debuts tonight and will be audio described. The series stars Australian comedians Kate McCartney and Kate McLennan, who have recorded their own AD tracks as shown in this video posted on their Facebook page today.
According to their Facebook post, Vision Australia will be making audio description available for the entire season of Get Krack!n on Vision Australia Radio at 9:30pm in Melbourne, Victoria and Perth and 10:30pm in Adelaide. A podcast will also be available the day after each episode has aired at https://radio.visionaustralia.org/