The Broadcasting Services (Digital TV Standards) Regulations 2000 require that all free-to-air broadcasters must caption all prime time, all news and all current affairs programs. There have been some limited exceptions. However, the regulations came into full force on 1 January 2004, whereby all news and current affairs programs (both metropolitan and regional broadcasts) must be captioned in full.
An agreement negotiated by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) also requires that free-to-air broadcasters progressively increase the volume (amount) of captioning on their programs over a period of years. There is another HREOC agreement that requires regular screenings of captioned movies in cinemas.
In addition, negotiations with PAY TV broadcasters are expected to lead to captioning of some of their broadcasts in the future.
Whilst Australia has generally enjoyed high quality captions on TV broadcasts, since the advent of the captioning regulations there have been some incidents of poor quality captioning. There currently are no legislated standards for captioning quality. Poor quality captioning is not acceptable. Captions must be understandable and must communicate the soundtrack, otherwise there is not point in them being there.
There is a need for quality standards to assist industry and government. Those standards should be endorsed by the caption suppliers, broadcasters, manufacturers of captioned DVDs, videos and movies, relevant government authorities and other relevant bodies.
The Deafness Forum is the peak body for deafness in Australia. Established in early 1993 at the instigation of the Federal government, the Deafness Forum now represents all interests and viewpoints of the Deaf and hearing impaired communities of Australia (including those people who have chronic disorder of the ear and those who are Deaf).
The representational base of the Deafness Forum is divided into five Sections:
a)Hearing Impaired Section - persons with hearing loss who communicate predominamtly orally,
b) Deaf Section - ie The Deaf Community - those persons who consider themselves to be members of that community bu virtue of its language (sign language knows as Auslan) and culture,
c) Ear Disorders Section - persons with chronic ear disorder (such as Tinnitus, Meniere;s Diseas or Acoustic Neuroma) and
d) Parents Section - parents or legal guadrians of persons who are Deaf or hearing impaired.
e) Service Providers section - service providers to the Deaf and/or hearing impaired communities.
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For further information on the Deafness Forum and to view the Standards for Captioning Quality visit our web site http://www.deafnessforum.org.au
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