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Govt announces working group to expand Audio Description service

The Turnbull Government has finally made a response to the ABC’s Audio Description Trial which ran for 15 months on iview, concluding last June.

Last week it announced the formation of an Audio Description Working Group to examine options for increasing audio description services in Australia.

The iview trial of 14 hours of weekly audio-described programmes for blind and visually-impaired viewers, received positive feedback.

The Government will now invite representatives from the broadcasting and streaming industries, audio description service providers and consumer representatives to participate in the working group.

But the process is certainly taking a long time for visually-impaired Australians. In 2015 Vision Australia lodged complaints with the Australian Human Rights Commission against Seven, Nine, TEN, SBS and Foxtel over a lack of audio descriptors. Back then Malcolm Turnbull was Minister for Communications.

“Audio description has been available on US television since the late 1980s. Since then it has been introduced in many European countries and in New Zealand in 2012,” Maryanne Diamond, Vision Australia’s General Manager of Advocacy and Engagement said at the time.

“Without audio description on television, the 350,000 Australians who are blind or have low vision miss out on important news and current affairs, entertainment and other information.”

The Government says it is committed to building on the successes of the ABC’s trial with the Working Group to provide a report to Government on its findings by 31 December 2017.

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