The captioning service began in 1984 launch after funds raised from 1981 Telethon and lobbying by the Deaf community. This was based at TVNZ, known as Subtitling and with only a handful of staff producing one to two hours of captioned programming a week.


The service expanded, and in 1991, live captioning was launched for ONE Network News during Deaf Awareness Week. Since this time, Able captions TV ONE bulletins throughout the day, starting with Midday through to the Tonight news, utilising current technologies, such as speech recognition input. 

Our history

In late November 2013, Able, formerly TVNZ Access Services, became a separate entity under the governance of the Media Access Charitable Trust. We now broadcast over 300 hours of captioned programmes a week, covering 100% of prime-time programming across TV ONE and TV2, with a selection across TV3, Prime and Duke.

An audio describer

Audio description 

The AD service was launched as a pilot in March 2011 with funding from New Zealand on Air, championed by the blind community and passionate team members. Coronation Street was the first programme to be audio described, using purchased files, and later in the year, locally produced programming was included in the form of Nothing Trivial and Shortland Street.

Able and AD logo

We now audio describe a selection of movies and a range of local and international content in prime-time across TV ONE and TV2. Over 40 hours a week of audio described content is now broadcast, favouring local programmes.