ABC launches audio description service for blind or vision-impaired audiences

The popular ABC children’s series Bluey is set to open up for its young fans who are blind or vision-impaired with the launch of the ABC’s audio description service this week.

Bluey is one of more than a dozen ABC programs that will be audio described on the ABC’s Main Channel, ABC ME, ABC Comedy, ABC Kids and ABC News. The ABC, as well as SBS, will broadcast around 14 hours of audio described content each week.

The ABC’s Managing Director, David Anderson, welcomed the new service to the ABC, saying it would be a game-changer for the blind community. “Since we began our trial of the service earlier this month, we have had a huge response from users,” he said. “People who are blind or vision-impaired will now be able to enjoy many of their favourite ABC Television shows alongside their sighted friends and family.”

ABC shows that will be audio described include: Back Roads, Gardening Australia, The Heights and Compass on the ABC Main Channel; Little J and Big Cuz, Bluey and Play School on ABC Kids; and High Fidelity on ABC Comedy. Repeat episodes of Four Corners, Australian Story and Foreign Correspondent will also be audio described and broadcast on ABC Main Channel as well as on the ABC NEWS channel.

Coming up in July is the documentary In My Blood It Runs, the BBC series Les Miserables, Bran Nue Dae, Rosehaven and Monty Don’s Japanese Gardens.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, the Hon Paul Fletcher MP, said: “The Morrison Government’s additional funding of $4 million for the ABC and SBS to deliver this innovation provides blind and vision impaired Australians with greater access to television content.”

“I’m pleased our national broadcasters are embracing new ways to serve their audiences and broaden the variety of content available to blind and vision impaired Australians.”

To ensure the new service meets industry standards and the expectations of the blind or vision-impaired communities, ABC and SBS partnered with the Centre for Inclusive Design to undertake research with users from across Australia. The research has informed both broadcasters on the best design and functionality of the service to make it as accessible as possible.

A full list of ABC’s audio described content can be found on the ABC TV homepage at TV audio description.

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