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Call For Captions In Election Campaign Ads

All political parties participating in the Election 2002 need to consider captioning their broadcasting campaigns and debates on Television for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired voters states Deaf lobbyist Kim Robinson.

More than 200,000 New Zealanders have a hearing impairment. A large majority of these voters miss out on the political issues that are debated during the Election campaigns. The lack of captioning in previous elections excluded people with disabilities whom are legal voters. The importance of captioning as a compulsory requirement in providing access to election campaigns must be recognised as the hearing impaired will otherwise have to vote with limited information.

In New Zealand, Television is captioned at mere 100+ hrs a week out of more than 1600+ hrs a week of television programs available to the public. Increased funding of more than $15 million a year will be need to achieve more than 1000+ hrs of captioned television content for Deaf and Hearing-Impaired. The Minister of Broadcasting should take note of the benefits of the increased involvement of Deaf and hearing impaired in the community through captioning.

This request runs parallel to the Relay Service case Mr Robinson previously had with the Telecommunications Sector. The community needs total accessibility on all public TV Channels and pay-channels such as SKY. Currently the present funds of $1.5 million NZ on Air gives to Captioning New Zealand does not accurately cater for these viewers who require full captions on all programmes which serve the public interest.

The lack of captions on television during Elections will lead to an unfair imbalance of party importance since listening to the Radio is out of question for many Deaf and hearing impaired. English and Maori are not restricted to verbal communications so why should Deaf and Hearing impaired be forgotten through visual mediums such as captioning on Television?

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