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2009 Media Release: And the cinema access Oscar goes to …

Commission Commission – General

4 May 2009

And the cinema access Oscar goes to …

Disability Discrimination Commissioner, Graeme Innes, has congratulated the Minister for Ageing, Justine Elliot, on her announcement that 12 independent cinemas in Australia will now offer captions and audio description services to Australians with a hearing or vision impairment.

“This is a very important announcement for the four million Australians who are currently unable to fully enjoy the experience of going to the cinema with family and friends because they have a vision or hearing impairment,” Commissioner Innes said.

“I want to congratulate Minister Elliot on her initiative and congratulate Media Access Australia and the Independent Cinema Association for their hard work in making this happen.”

The major cinema chains currently offer captioning in 12 cinemas around Australia. Government funding of these 12 independent cinemas will not only double the number of cinemas providing captioning, but for the first time ever in Australia, provide audio description as well.

“I have to note, however, that this increase in the number of cinemas capable of providing better access brings us no where near the number of cinemas in countries like the UK or USA, where 15 percent of cinemas are covered,” Commissioner Innes said.

The Commissioner said he was hopeful that the current Media Access Inquiry being undertaken by the Minister’s colleague, Minister Conroy, will deliver ideas on how to achieve further improvement in cinema access that would result in parity with overseas markets.

Captions are an English-language text version of the movie soundtrack, which includes not only speech but other important sounds.

Audio description is where the important visual information is presented in an audio format, such as scenery or sight gags, so that people can listen to it whilst the movie is playing.

Commissioner Innes said that, not only was this development an extremely valuable contribution to improving the accessibility of cinemas in Australia for people with a disability, but it is also something that will benefit more and more people in the community as the Australian population ages.

Background paper: www.yourlocalcinema.com.au/docs/Accessible_cinema_backgrounder.doc

Media Access Inquiry: www.dbcde.gov.au/media_broadcasting/television/television_captioning/television_captioning_discussion_paper

Media contact: Brinsley Marlay 02 9284 9656 or 0430 366 529