The drive to make TV accessible through closed captioning and descriptive video is obviously well under way. In Canada, DV has been a regular feature for broadcasters since 2001 (with more and more networks being told to add a greater number of described hours per week), and CC is, on the top tier networks, almost at 100 percent. In the US, after considerable back-pedalling, DV is slated to make a comeback starting in 2012. We can only hope these efforts will continue to expand.
But television isn’t the only medium through which people are gaining access to information and entertainment these days. Increasingly, this is happening via the internet, be it through sites like YoutTube or Vimeo, or the more “hybrid” ones, like Netflix.
The regulations don’t seem to reach that far, at least for now.
In Canada, the Federal Government has decided to make its websites fully accessible. That means that if you are watching a video on any website of any ministry or branch of the Canadian government, it will be described and captioned.
As promising a start as this is, it’s just a start. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Youtube decided to have their top videos described and captioned? Or if Netflix started offering their material with accessibility features, even if it meant raising their monthly rates by 25 cents or so?
With convergence between media well underway, and more and more people choosing to watch their shows via internet and on-demand systems, one thing is for sure: if we continue to think of accessibility solely in relation to broadcast networks, large, and ever growing numbers of people are going to be left in the dark.
Happy New Year everyone!