Accessibility Tools

Retro image of a tv screen with striped colours and sound coming out

More reasons to tune in to the TV with both SBS and the ABC rolling out audio description services. Advocates have fought long and hard to bring access and inclusion for people who are blind or have low vision to broadcast television for decades. 

The service which started on June 28, gives a description of what is being shown on the screen. Audio description makes audiovisual content accessible to people who are blind or have low vision in much the same way Closed captions, which have become increasingly available for nearly 50 years now, do for people who are D/deaf or have a hearing impairment. 

Both the ABC and SBS will deliver about 14 hours each of shows every week that have audio description. This content will be available on live broadcast television but is not available on catch up streaming services ABC iview and SBS On Demand as yet. 

Emma Bennison, CEO of Blind Citizens Australia (BCA), has welcomed the launch, saying:

“The introduction of audio description is a landmark step and life-changing milestone in making TV more accessible for people who are blind or vision-impaired".

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.” 

According to Vision Australia, Audio Description (AD) is an additional narration that succinctly paints an image of transitions, movements, gestures, props, settings, costumes and scenery woven between the dialogue in audiovisual content. An example of Audio Descriptions in action and ways it can be used to enrich cultural experiences can be found below. 

For more information on audio description and a joint SBS and ABC audio description programming guide, go to Vision Australia's Audio Description Services page. 

Find out more about how it works and what's on

SBS Audio Description Services
ABC Audio Description Services

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