New Zealand: call for increased funding for captioning

Awareness

© Sanja Gjenero - Sxc

The Caption It NZ campaign has called for new legislation that will ensure people with hearing impairments also get a chance to enjoy full TV coverage of major events.

Hearing aid wearers often complain that watching television is still difficult even with assistive devices. Going to the movies is practically impossible for some of them. Many people with hearing loss rely almost entirely on captions to follow the plot and make the most of watching TV.

Supporters of the legislation would like to see an increase in the amount of funding allocated to captioning. The Captioning Working Group, formed by The National Foundation for the Deaf, Deaf Aotearoan, and the Hearing Association of New Zealand, aims to establish equal access to television and movies for people who are deaf or who have hearing impairments. As part of their efforts, they have met with the New Zealand Minister of Broadcasting, Craig Foss, but also with executives at NZ On Air, TVNZ, and Sky TV.

According to Louise Carroll, Chief Executive of the National Foundation for the Deaf, the captioning rate was only 8% two and a half years ago. Since then it has reached 24% over a 24-hour period but has plateaued. “The captioning rate in the United States, United Kingdom and Australia all sit at 100% and what drove them to achieving this was the introduction of legislation that required the broadcasters to fund the access service out of their profits. Simple as that,” she says. “The New Zealand government needs to amend the Telecommunications Act and the Broadcasting Act to ensure captioning is included, but they say the broadcasters need to be encouraged to do this voluntarily.”

Source: Auckland Now

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