Broadcasting organisations partner to help Deaf and hearing impaired

Wednesday 13 June 2012, 2:13PM
By NZ On Air

NZ On Air, TVNZ and South Pacific Pictures have joined together to secure more subtitles on Kiwi DVDs.

The move helps extend DVD viewing options for Deaf and hearing impaired audiences.

Louise Carroll, the chairperson of the cross sector Captioning Working Group, says the group applauds this development. “New Zealand’s level of captioning was among the lowest in the world. NZ On Air is helping remove at least one aspect of this barrier by improving DVD access for more than 700,000 Deaf and hearing impaired people.”

Most New Zealand television programmes already have special captions funded by NZ On Air to serve Deaf and hearing impaired audiences.  TVNZ Access Services captions a variety of programmes that screen on TV One, TV2 and TV3. The programmes subsequently released on DVD have usually not had those captions included on the disk, because of the extra cost involved and some tricky technical issues.

TVNZ has been working to add the captioning files funded by NZ On Air on DVD releases of programmes screened on TVNZ channels. Recent releases of captioned DVDs include The Politically Incorrect Guide to Grown-Ups and upcoming releases Blakey, Siege and Safe House.

At the same time NZ On Air has worked with TVNZ Access Services and South Pacific Pictures to provide the same arrangement for programmes made for TV3. The first DVD release under this new scheme will be Golden, a new comedy premiering on Sunday on TV3.

“We now expect captioning can be extended to other DVD releases of local TV3-supported programmes, where captions have already been created”, says NZ On Air’s Jane Wrightson. “TVNZ Access Services has been happy to work with us to offer a cost-effective solution and we are delighted South Pacific Pictures has been the first to the party”, she says.

Wendy Youens from TVNZ Access Services says she’s very pleased to be able to help provide an extra audience service. “We are in constant contact with this community and we know how important this is to them” she says.

South Pacific Pictures head John Barnett says his company too is pleased to help. “The audiences for captioned DVDs are comparatively small” he says “but by working together we’ve found a way to move past a difficult business case to better serve the Deaf and hearing impaired community”.