Wednesday, 20th July 2023: Last week on behalf of BCA, I attended the launch of Audio Description (AD) on iview at the ABC building in Ultimo. When the AD feature launched quietly on the app a few weeks ago, there were a couple of hours of content. Now there are more than 2,500.

The event featured audio description ambassador Nas Campanella and ABC Chair Ita Buttrose, who both spoke with conviction about the crucial role AD can play in the lives of people who are blind or vision impaired and potentially of many other viewers. Federal Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, also attended. She explained that in the May Federal Budget, the temporary funding for the ABC to deliver AD was converted into a base item in the ABC’s budget, so it will be one of the items for which the ABC has stable funding for the next five years.

Entertaining audio described clips were played, along with engaging promotions for AD on iview which will be part of an ABC campaign: Sounds like ABC. These feature actors who are blind or vision impaired. The MC of the session was Megan Spindler-Smith, head of ABC Inclusive. This employee network was credited with lobbying for AD internally and Megan spoke of its value to her as an autistic person. All speakers acknowledged the advocacy that has led to this launch, including that of Blind Citizens Australia and our member, Lauren Henley, who took her complaint to the United Nations and won.

Minister Rowland acknowledged that there is much more work to be done and said that she is looking to the broader broadcasting community to set up some frameworks and timetables to further expand AD. I know that AD has progressed this far because of the dedication and commitment of many of BCA’s members; you have spoken and written to members of Parliament, participated in trials and campaigns, made enthusiastic videos and convinced your friends to get involved. I attended the launch on your behalf.

It felt like true inclusion to be in a room full of busy people celebrating an achievement that was won because people who are blind or vision impaired wanted it and fought for it. If you have not already, now is a good time to write to your member of Parliament or the Minister of Communications about why AD should be available in more places.