One key area of interest for the audio description community continues to be the availability of audio description (AD) on streaming sites. Audio description is not currently available on any free-to-air broadcast video-on-demand platform in New Zealand. This means that AD can only be accessed when the programme goes to air, or if the user records the programme to re-watch later.

In the long term, Able is committed to working with broadcasters in any way we can to support them to make their platforms accessible. However, much of this is outside of our control, and change may not come into effect for some time.

In the short term, Able has found a potential solution that we are investigating, which would be an interim solution, while we continue to work with broadcasters towards streaming platforms being able to host AD.  The solution we’re proposing would allow us to increase the availability of AD on streaming sites this year, without relying on broadcaster capability. 

The proposed solution:

An app has been developed in The Netherlands which can host AD files, and automatically synchronises the AD with the media played on a TV or another device in the same room (ie. it listens to the soundtrack, and plays the AD in relation to the programme or film). The app is called Earcatch, which you can check out through this link: https://earcatch.eu/.

Able has submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage for funding to launch this app in New Zealand as a pilot scheme from July 2023 – June 2024. If the proposal was successful and funding was granted, Able would upload 1000 episodes of audio description files to the app, which would correspond to content on broadcast video on demand streaming platforms.

We are aware that the requirement to have access to a smartphone or tablet could mean that this initiative is not suitable for everyone, and we would look to support anyone wanting to access the app as much as possible.

The proposal is now at feedback stage. Feedback is open through the MCH website until this coming Sunday, 19 March 2023, 11.59pm.

Follow the link below to read more about our proposal and complete a short survey.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/88PHYLN

You may also like to give feedback on some of the other proposals being considered. A full list of proposals is available on the Manatū Taonga website through this link: https://mch.govt.nz/covid-recovery/regeneration-fund/feedback.

If you need more information about the feedback process, you can read more on the Manatū Taonga website.

If you would prefer to submit feedback directly to Able, please feel free to do so by contacting the Able team at hello@able.co.nz.

Thank you so much for your time.

Ngā mihi, Sophie Jones – Communications & Marketing Manager at Able

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