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22 June 2020

The following announcement has been provided by Blind Citizens Australia regarding the official launch of audio description services on the ABC and SBS starting 28 June 2020. This has been a long time coming and marks an important move forward in the provision of media access for people who are blind and vision impaired. Congratulations to everyone involved.

The ABC and SBS are launching audio description services, providing greater access to their programming for Australians who are blind or vision-impaired. 

From 28 June, both broadcasters will each be providing around 14 hours per week of audio described programming across SBS and SBS VICELAND TV channels on the SBS network, and ABC, ABC ME, ABC Comedy and ABC Kids channels on the ABC network. This means that some of the best documentaries, dramas, movies, lifestyle and children’s programming on free-to-air TV in Australia will now be available with audio description.

To access audio description on relevant programming, televisions and/or set top boxes must have audio description settings enabled. Many devices will require the assistance of a sighted person to adjust these settings and it is recommended you take the time to set up your device ahead of the launch to ensure you have audio description enabled and ready.

To set up audio description you will need to update the audio language setting on your device using your remote control and on-screen menu options, or activate the accessibility features of your equipment. Settings will vary between brands and models so both SBS and the ABC have provided guidance, including instructions for setting up audio description on a large number of tested television models, on their websites. You can also check your device manual or contact your manufacturer for specific information about your equipment if needed.

Both broadcasters want to ensure it’s clear to all audiences when audio description is available. As part of the upcoming launch, they will be introducing a chime which will sound as a program commences, signalling to audiences that the program they are about to watch is audio described. The chime used will be the same on both networks. Both the ABC and SBS also have listings of upcoming audio described programming available on their websites, which are regularly updated. In addition, ‘AD’ will be displayed alongside programming information available on electronic program guides on your device, and this will also feature in the online TV guides for both broadcasters.

For more information about the services SBS and the ABC are providing, please visit the audio description sections of their websites where you can access a range of information to assist in enabling audio description on your device, be aware of what programming is available, and how you can contact them with feedback or for further support: 

SBS: sbs.com.au/audiodescription

ABC: ABC audio description service

The Centre For Accessibility Australia is a joint project by Media on Mars, DADAA and Dr Scott Hollier and is funded by the Department of Communities, Disability Services.

Website by Media on Mars - link opens in a new window