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$500,000 for new service for blind audiences


$500,000 for new service for blind audiences

NZ On Air today announced funding has been made available for a new service for vision impaired and blind audiences.

Audio Description allows people with vision impairment to follow television programmes more easily. An audio track describes the non verbal on-screen action in a programme alongside the normal soundtrack.

Over 75,000 New Zealanders have a sight limitation that cannot be corrected by glasses or contact lenses. “NZ On Air has long supported captioning of broadcasts for the hearing-impaired,” said NZ On Air chief executive Jane Wrightson. “Now we are proud to improve access to New Zealand television for the blind and vision-impaired community. ”

“This is the result of many years of hard work and advocacy by the blind community, as well as ongoing feasibility investigations by NZ On Air and TVNZ,” she said. “Developments in new technology have finally made a service possible. We’re grateful for the willingness and support of Anna Donald and the team at TVNZ to build this service into their new digital infrastructure”, she said.

“Establishing this service is a major step forward for New Zealand” said TVNZ’s Head of TV ONE and TV 2 Jeff Latch. “This new service will be as critical to vision impaired audiences as the captioning service is to hearing impaired audiences and TVNZ is proud to be able to help”, he said.

The Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand welcomed the announcement. “We’ve been waiting many years for audio description”, said National President Clive Lansink. “Now the technology is finally here, it’s fantastic that NZ On Air and TVNZ have been able to work together to develop this service” said Mr Lansink.

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”Access to broadcasting is a human rights issue. Television plays a huge part in people's lives and now it is possible for the television industry to include us more in their audience,” he said.

NZ On Air’s funding is for a pilot year for a limited amount of TV One programming. After NZ On Air and TVNZ evaluate the success of the pilot, and depending on available funding, it is expected the service will roll out more broadly.

ENDS

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