Tonight is New Zealand's First Ever Audio Described Television Screening for the Blind and Vision Impaired

Tuesday 1 March 2011, 4:14PM
By Association of Blind Citizens of NZ

Blind and vision impaired Coronation Street fans will tonight experience this country’s first ever audio described television programme.

“We have been waiting a very long time for audio description”, said Clive Lansink, National President of the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand. “And tonight, I will be hunkering down to watch Coronation Street for the first time in many years, along with many hundreds of blind people across the country”.

Tonight’s launch of Audio Description, a new service for New Zealand’s blind and vision impaired viewers, has been made possible through a pilot grant of $500,000 from New Zealand On Air. TVNZ’s commitment to meet the needs of blind people in much the same way as it does through captioning for the deaf, through this funding, tonight becomes reality.

“Tonight, blind people like me will have an appreciation of the atmosphere and surroundings of the Rovers Return. We’ll learn of the unspoken, visual antics of characters such as Liz and the goings on of Kevin and Molly”, said Lynette Simon, an Association Board Member and self-confessed audio-described advocate.

“Those of us unable to appreciate the nuances of silent, visual activities occurring on screen benefit from audio description because this provides us with a commentary of the visual experience” said Clive Lansink. “It is only available on FreeView and it is another example of the benefits of new digital television technology – making television more accessible to everyone in the community.”

Blind and vision impaired people throughout the country will be thinking of their Christchurch-based peers who may not be as fortunate as to witness tonight’s historic launch of audio description. Clive said “our hearts and thoughts are with them all at this time of need.”

With the aim of increasing the level of audio described television content past 30 June 2011, the Association continues to work with TVNZ and NZ On Air, and applauds government, TVNZ and NZ On Air for this new, and much awaited service.

Founded in 1945, the Association of Blind Citizens of New Zealand Inc (Association) is New Zealand’s leading blindness consumer organisation and one of the country’s largest organisations of disabled consumers. The Association’s aim is to heighten awareness of the rights of blind and vision impaired people and to remove the barriers that impact upon our ability to live in an accessible, equitable and inclusive society. Ends