Building an inclusive New Zealand requires ALL of us to play our part. Access to information is a human right.

Sunday morning. Free to air television. 8am. Rugby World Cup. New Zealand v France. Prime TV.

Annabel, age 9 “Mum, I hate watching Prime TV, it has no captions. What are they saying?”

Heart sinks.

Over the last several weeks I have listened and read of people saying things like:
• you don’t need captions for sport
• look at the numbers on the players backs
• you can’t caption live sports
• if it matters (captions) that much, have whip round to fund captioning
• we don’t have the technical capability

Here’s the drill.

Yesterday captions were broadcast in Australia on Foxtel (subscription service) for the New Zealand versus France game. ITV in the UK broadcast captions for the same game.

Look at these photos, sent to me from viewers in these countries.

Image: Photo montage of #NZLvFRA game showing captions including Richie McCawesome “We are very happy”

Why are there captions? Because the broadcasters are required to caption and they do!

In New Zealand, broadcasters are not required to caption. If Sky NZ wanted to provide captioning for the Rugby World Cup on Prime and Sky, they could.

Building an inclusive New Zealand requires ALL of us to play our part. Individuals, businesses & the government. I’d like to see the government require broadcasters to caption. This model works well overseas. It’s not political issue. Access to information is a human right.

I know that when Richie McCawesome is being interviewed on TV, one of my daughters can follow what he says directly. The other can’t.

In 2011, the Rugby World Cup had 7 games broadcast on TV with live captioning. This Rugby World Cup, NO game will broadcast with captioning. That’s not progress.

This is a bigger issue than Sport. In March I wrote that “it’s not just about the cricket” (which wasn’t captioned) “its about access, inclusion, education, entertainment, information.

Yes. I get angry when I learn of comments made on radio and social media trivializing deafness. I am saddened when people are dismissive of the need for captioning – perhaps through lack of deaf awareness – when one day, the odds are they too may benefit from them. I get extremely frustrated at the standard “technical capability” excuse rolled out by Sky Television, or the government captioning funding model by others.

But I am doing something about it.

There is a better way. I am advocating for change. My kids are too. Will you join us? Kick captions into touch in this country. Sign the captioning petition peeps, sign the petition.

Thank you


PS My eldest daughter is bilingual English & NZSL. She thought the Rugby World Cup Lipreading video was hilarious, and loved the captions. “But mum they are not really saying that are they?!”

This blog is the personal opinion of Helen MacKay, mother of Annabel MacKay, who is the face of the #CaptionitNZ campaign


Annabels letter to the Prime Minister

Annabels Youtube video

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  1. Jennifer Brain October 20, 2015 | Reply
    I agree totally that access to information is a basic human right. I have also been fortunate enough to see live sport captioning in Australia and have been so impressed. Rugby rules are confusing so it would be good to know why thevrefs blow their whistles and what the rule breach is.

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