Watching television is about to get a whole lot easier for Australians with vision-impairment as the ABC and SBS launch new Audio Description services.
Audio description is the audible narration of the non-verbal elements of a TV program. During gaps in dialogue, it describes visual elements such as scenes, settings, actions and costumes. It is particularly beneficial to people who are blind and vision impaired.
Audio description will predominantly appear in dramas, documentaries and movies, which have sufficient gaps in dialogue for the insertion of audio description.
SBS is already testing the feature on select programming including Filthy Rich and Homeless, Who Do You Think You Are, and Great British Railway Journeys on SBS and SBS VICELAND broadcast channels. The ABC will launch its trial on Sunday, 7 June.
Both broadcasters intend to launch a more comprehensive service by 30 June 2020.
Some of the first ABC programs to get the new feature during the trial will be Operation Buffalo, Back Roads, Gardening Australia and Foreign Correspondent. The ABC has plans to quickly expand the feature to other ABC channels, including ABC ME, ABC Comedy and ABC Kids.
The introduction of Audio Description comes after the Federal Government provide special funding of $2 million per network to improve accessibility.
A full calendar of SBS programming featuring Audio description can be found here. https://www.sbs.com.au/aboutus/audio-description-services