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Ensuring Deaf community gets access to election coverage

Media Release

August 2014

Able ensuring that the Deaf community gets access to election coverage

Able, New Zealand’s captioning and audio description service, is thrilled to announce they will be captioning all political debates and live election coverage on TV ONE during this year’s election.

Wendy Youens, Chief Executive of Able, says that providing captions on all debates and the live coverage on the day will “allow Deaf and hard of hearing people to stay up to date with the election and participate fully in the political process.”

Coverage will include all political debates and election night coverage on TV ONE, as well as ONE News at Midday, ONE News at 6pm, Seven Sharp, ONE News Tonight, Sunday’s Q+A, and Sunday’s repeat of The Nation on TV3. All captioning is free and easy to use throughout New Zealand.

Chief Executive of Deaf Aotearoa Lachlan Keating says that Able’s captioning of election coverage is a fantastic asset to those in the Deaf community who want to stay fully involved in the political process. “For many New Zealanders, watching political debates is the way they get a better understanding of policies and engage with the political process. Captioning allows the Deaf community to have improved access to this, which is fantastic.”

Able, which is fully funded by NZ On Air, is already in the throes of preparing an election captioning team in the lead-up to the first leaders’ debate on the 28th of August.

This team of specialist live re-speakers will use voice recognition software to caption the coverage, with preparation including compiling wordlists of candidates’ names, electorates and major issues. Election-related videos are also being used as training.

“We take election captioning very seriously and want to ensure that Deaf and hard of hearing people are able to access the most accurate representation of the coverage possible,” says Wendy. “Although with the nature of live captioning we do have to summarise what takes place in live coverage, our training ensures that all captioners are familiar with the people, issues and places involved with this election in order to provide Deaf and hard of hearing people with the best access possible.”

Formerly part of TVNZ, Able provided captioning during the 2008 and 2011 elections but looks forwards to being able to provide 8 full hours of election coverage, as well as four news bulletins per day on TV ONE.

Shares Wendy, “Able is working towards increasing the number of hours of captioning available on NZ television, and captioning the election coverage is one way of doing so.”


Editor’s Note:

About Able

Able is the only provider of free to air television access to New Zealand’s hard of hearing and vision impaired communities through high quality captions and audio description. Able, which is currently fully funded by NZ On Air, has its roots as the captioning service at TVNZ, but as of 2013 is now a new, independent service.

Able aims to provide access to television for the hard of hearing and vision impaired communities to help them stay informed and socially included.


The captioning service launched in 1984 as a way of giving the Deaf and hard of hearing communities access to the same entertainment and informative programming that hearing people have access to. Able broadcasts an average of 250 hours per week, including 100% of primetime programming across TV One and TV2, as well as a selection across TV3 and FOUR.

Audio description:

Audio description was launched in 2011 as a way of allowing the blind community to more fully engage with television programming. An average of 20 hours per week of audio described content is now broadcast across TV One and TV2, favouring local programmes.

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