|02-01-2012, 05:59 PM||#1 (permalink)|
Join Date: Apr 2004
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New TV assistance for deaf viewers
New TV assistance for deaf viewers | Stuff.co.nz
MORE ACCESS: Louise Carroll from the National Foundation of the Deaf viewing a caption running on a children's channel at Sky TV.
Deaf and hearing-impaired Kiwis are about to get a lot more choice in what they watch on television thanks to closed captioning being introduced on 10 new channels.
Tomorrow, Sky Television will launch closed captions via its digital decoders on 13 channels: TV One, TV2 and TV3, Animal Planet, Disney, Disney Junior, TCM, Cartoon Network, Crime & Investigation, Discovery, Nickelodeon, UKTV and National Geographic.
Closed-captioning information will be displayed on the on-screen electronic programme guide, and viewers will be able to select closed captions for a single programme, or a global setting to show closed captions whenever they are available. Viewers will also be able to search the guide for content which has closed captions available.
Sky Television chief executive John Fellet said the company had wanted to offer the service for some time but failed to get NZ On Air funding.
The company had so far spent about $250,000 on sourcing the caption information for its programmes and setting up a system to monitor the service.
National Foundation for the Deaf (NFD) chief executive Louise Carroll said New Zealand's level of programme captioning was among the lowest in the world but that the 10 new channels would "open up new horizons" for the hearing impaired.
Captions are currently available for shows on TV1, TV2 and TVNZ 7 as well as TV3 through Freeview or Teletext.
"Think of an elderly person who's been able to hear for 60 years and suddenly they can no longer hear the television news properly - they could go to TV1 and TV2, but they lose the option of all the great movies and even watching cartoons with their grandchildren," Carroll said.
"Imagine a child coming through at school age - they want to watch the cartoons with their mates but they just can't understand what's going on."
Carroll said Sky's new captions meant it was now a meaningful option for the one in six New Zealanders that had a hearing impairment. That amounts to a new market of about 700,000 people who may find the captions as added motivation to join Sky.
"I'm hearing impaired and definitely I miss the dialogue sometimes," said Carroll, who also chairs the Captioning Working Group which lobbies the government for public funding.
The faces in the shows are too fast so you can't lip-read properly and if you've missed an important chunk of the programme it's really frustrating. Carroll also said advertisers were missing out on a huge opportunity, and she hoped Parliament TV would eventually be captioned.
Deaf Aotearoa, also part of the working group, said a survey of 400 mostly deaf people showed the overwhelming majority would not subscribe to Sky unless it had captions.
Deaf Aotearoa president Kellye Bensley said excitement had already spread through the deaf community with the announcement of Sky's testing phase.
Sky Television's head of communications Kirsty Way said live content captioning - mainly for news bulletins and sports - could also be in the works but Sky was still asking NZ On Air to consider funding such content on its free-to-air channel Prime, if not its pay- television channels.
Sky was also looking at providing audio descriptors to make it easier for blind and sight-impaired people to understand television programmes, probably for TV1 and TV2 initially. Fairfax NZ
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