Infographic: AD in Australia

In the Curtin disability research team, we sometimes use infographics and comics to help raise public awareness and understanding of our work and the assistive features we advocate for. These will periodically be shared on this blog, starting with the one below – which was created to draw more attention to audio description.

Note: all 4 sections of the infographic are accompanied by alt text.

Infographic page 1. Title: Audio Description in Australia. A montage of bright cartoon style images run down the page, depicting people using laptops and listening to headphones. A woman walks with her guide dog, and another speaks into a microphone, recording AD. Image text: What is Audio Description? Audio Description (AD) is audio narration recorded to accompany visual events and media such as television, films, streaming video, and live performances. Why is it necessary? AD enables those who are Blind or vision impaired to access visual media by providing additional details about elements this audience cannot see, such as movement, scenery, facial expressions, and costumes. It is typically provided as an additional audio track for viewers to listen to via headphones, apps, and online streaming services. Audio description is an essential accessibility tool for people who are Blind or have low vision. Did you know? Globally, video makes up 80% of all Internet traffic in 2021. Visual media now dominates how we communicate, learn, and connect. Studies show people are twice as likely to share video content with their friends compared to any other type of content. 96% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service.
Infographic page 2. A montage of colourful images depict people listening to headphones, watching television, and campaigning for AD. Image text: In order to participate fully in Australian society and culture, all people must have equal access to visual media, both online and offline. This has become even more important since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Did you know? According to Article 27 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: "Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community [and] to enjoy the arts." Additionally, Article 21 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities states that people with disabilities must be provided access to information on "an equal basis with others" through the provision of "accessible formats and technologies." Audio description is not a bonus or luxury, but a basic human right for people with vision impairment. Is it available in Australia? The campaign for audio description in Australia has been ongoing for nearly 30 years. AD is increasingly available on DVDs, in cinemas, at cultural events and subscription video on demand. However, television has lagged behind. Until 2020, Australia was the only English-speaking OECD country in the world that did not require its broadcasters or streaming services to provide audio description.
Infographic page 3. A montage of images depict groups of individuals talking, reporting on graphs, and sharing information with others. Image text: What have we achieved so far?
Infographic page 4. Images include a small globe of the Earth and a man speaking into a microphone with 'AD' on it. Image text: The Future: Where do we go from here? In addition to Blind and vision impaired audiences, the Curtin team have discovered that audio description has the potential to benefit many others in the community including parents of young children, people who work from home or multi-task, people on the autism spectrum, film students and critics, and passionate television fans. Further research and consultation with these groups will be essential for assessing the efficacy of AD and its future development. There are also ongoing questions regarding industry standards that need to be addressed, such as: How do we define quality AD? How does an audio describer negotiate complex issues such as race or gender in their narration of visual media? Do different audiences prefer different styles of audio description? While AD is becoming more available on Australia's national broadcast channels, we are yet to achieve widespread availability or see AD provided on commercial television. Legislating audio description for all Australian broadcasters is the next logical step.

REFERENCES

For more information on this research please contact:

Professor Katie Ellis: katie.ellis@curtin.edu.au

Infographic designed by Dr Gwyneth Peaty using Canva.

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