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NFD establishes Captioning working group

The National Foundation for the Deaf has set up a captioning working group with the aim of establishing equal access to TV and movies for deaf and hearing impaired people in New Zealand.

Members of the NFD Captioning Working Group are:

· Ms Kellye Bensley President Deaf Aotearoa

· Mrs Louise Carroll, Chief Executive Officer, NFD

· Ms Robyn Carter, Board Member Deaf Aotearoa

· Ms Dara McNaught, Policy Manager, NFD

· Professor Peter Thorne, Council Chairperson, NFD

A 2011 survey, “Captioning in New Zealand”, conducted by members of the group, showed the deaf and hearing impaired community felt a strong sense of injustice and frustration at the way poor TV, home video and cinema captioning denied them the simple pleasures of relaxation, entertainment and access to information and education.

Over the next 12 months the NFD Captioning Working Group will push for legislation to make the captioning of TV programmes in New Zealand compulsory – a change favoured by 86% of the Captioning New Zealand survey respondents.

New Zealand TV captioning is among the worst in the western world with even Uganda having a better service than us. While some captioning is funded by NZ On Air and a high quality captioning service is provided by TV1, TV2 and TV3 it amounts to less than 10% of total TV hours each week across all free to air and subscriber pay channels.

Captioning is about equal access for both hearing and non-hearing people. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled Persons, ratified by New Zealand, states that all persons with disabilities should enjoy equal access to television programmes, films, theatre and cultural activities in accessible formats.

Many countries, Australia and the USA included, have mandatory captioning legislation. We are seriously lagging behind the rest of the world and it’s time we caught up.

© Scoop Media

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