Happy New Year! As Kiwis pack up their tents and chillybins, put the cover back on the barbie and get back into work mode, let’s take a peek around the corner at what’s in store for media accessibility in 2018.
1. Technology developments
There are already heaps of cool apps available providing accessibility services, but the technology is just going to get better and better. Feedback from users and development from software companies will lead to better accuracy and therefore better uptake. Last year we enjoyed checking out Microsoft’s Seeing AI app, providing real-time live automated descriptions of your physical surroundings, enabling access for blind people. While it’s not perfect (it described my blue rubbish bin as a ‘blue suitcase’!), the technology is only getting better.
At Able we’re using speech-recognition captioning, and as the recognition engine improves, so does the caption accuracy and ability to caption fast-paced multi-speaker live programming. In 2018 we’re looking forward to tapping into new and developing technology.
2. Awareness and education
This year we’ll be working hard to increase awareness of media accessibility needs among organisations, businesses, government and broadcasters. Providing captions or audio description on your media content is easy, straightforward and low-cost, so why don’t more people do it? Lack of awareness, lack of education and lack of visibility of the needs of the Deaf, hard of hearing and blind and vision impaired communities. Greater awareness will lead to greater accessibility.
Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero said in an article for The Spinoff last year that we need to create the right environment: the policy settings, supports and attitudes that enable all disabled New Zealanders to thrive. Media producers making their content accessible is a step in the right direction and enables people with access needs to fully enjoy, understand and benefit from news and entertainment.
This one’s pretty obvious! In 2018, demand for accessible media is going to increase. With Netflix providing 100% captioning and a growing amount of audio description on their programming, local online platforms are going to face increased demand for accessibility features. As viewers are exposed to abundant accessibility services on international platforms, demand for homegrown online content with captioning and audio description will increase.
We’re looking forward to a progressive, dynamic and collaborative year ahead. Get in touch with us if we can help you make your content accessible in 2018.
Wendy - Chief Executive, Able