No cash for deaf and hard of hearing to enable accessibility through broadcast captioning in Budget 2016

The Government’s position is to encourage captioning by Broadcasters with the expectation that improvements in captioning will come through improving technology. In line with this belief, no additional funds were allocated for broadcast captioning in Budget 2016. However, sadly, encouragement alone is not enough.

Encouraging Broadcasters to caption leaves New Zealanders without captions on many News & current affairs programmes on free to air television from 11pm until 12noon the next day. In comparison, in Australia broadcasters must caption these programmes on primary channels twenty-four hours a day, every day.

The technology is available now.

Encouraging Broadcasters to caption has led to the development of TVNZ On Demand without captions, but, in comparison, ABCiView in Australia has captions as does the BBCiPlayer.

The technology is available now.

Encouraging Broadcasters to caption has led to the development of subscription on demand services Lightbox (owned by Spark) and NEON (owned by Sky) without captions. Netflix has captions.

The technology is available now.

Much is made of ‘Broadcasters Rights’ to content, but what of Human Rights to access that content? Without captions, many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people simply turn off. Others feel isolated and left out of conversations. Some with the knowledge probably use technology to illegally source accessible content from overseas.

The technology is available now.

Our campaign is not a political one. It is about access. Making sure all New Zealanders, regardless of political leanings, have access to form their own opinions, be informed and entertained. We are calling on the Government to legislate for captioning. Last week we presented a petition to Parliament, signed by over 2,300 people calling on them to do just that.

Hon. Bill English, Finance Minister, appeared on the TVNZ Breakfast show to discuss #Budget2016. This programme airs without captions.

The technology is available now.

The Government must also lead by example. To coincide with the Budget announcements the New Zealand National Party published a pre-recorded animated video summary on YouTube at 2pm on Budget day (Budget 2016 – Investing in a growing economy: https://youtu.be/NGRcHBfbXhw). It also appeared on Facebook on the Prime Minister’s page. It has no captions! It is impossible to lip read an animated clip. YouTube and Facebook both support closed captioning.

The technology is available now.

Mojo Mathers with Annabel Mackay at the Petition Handover at Parliament.

Mojo Mathers with Annabel Mackay at the Petition Handover at Parliament.

#CaptionitNZ

FOOTNOTE:
The New Zealand Captioning Working Group (CWG) is a collaboration of Deaf Aotearoa and The National Foundation for the Deaf who have been working together for 4 years to improve media accessibility across the Deaf and Hard of Hearing communities.

Captions are similar to subtitles that are seen on a foreign language programme, but the text is shown in the same language as the spoken audio. They also include descriptive text for sound effects like “door slamming”, “gunshots fire”, song lyrics or may simply say “silence” when there is no sound. Closed Captions (CC) are turned on using a button on a TV remote control or by choosing an option on a phone, tablet or computer.