DAILY NEWS Dec 1, 2008 3:51 PM - 0 comments

Accessible Channel Launches with "Open Format'

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 The Accessible Channel is launching across Canada on December 3rd, 2008, providing a detailed picture of television for the vision impaired.

On the current basic cable TV set-up, people who want to access description must change the audio settings of their televisions to S.A.P. (Secondary Audio Programming). For many persons with vision impairments, this process can be difficult, if not impossible, as it often works through a series of on-screen menu prompts.

But with "open format" on The Accessible Channel that process is eliminated: description is available on the primary audio setting and the only soundtrack provided is the described track.  The Accessible Channel will also provide closed captioning for 90% of its program schedule, which is in compliance with current CRTC regulations.

In a decision issued July 24th, the CRTC approved an application from The National Broadcast Reading Service (NBRS) for The Accessible Channel (TAC), furthering the unique charity's mission to make media accessible. Since then, the NBRS has been working on their promise to deliver programming accessible to all.

“People shouldn’t be excluded from media just because they are visual impaired,” says John Capobianco, Chair of the National Broadcast Reading Service. “NBRS was created two decades ago with a mandate to enhance media access for millions of vision-restricted Canadians and on December 3rd The Accessible Channel will take a step farther to ensure everyone is included”.

Orville Parkes, Chair, The Accessible Channel added, “This is not only about convenience, but a key to social integration. The Accessible Channel will make broadcasting history allowing millions of visual impaired Canadians to be included in everything that was and is television”.

With over 500 films, countless television programs, and current events, news, and entertainment, there will finally be a channel that includes every­one.

The National Broadcast Reading Service Inc. (NBRS) is a registered charity that provides news, information and entertainment to 4.5 million vision- and print-restricted Canadians. In addition to working with others, NBRS (www.nbrscanada.com) does this through its two divisions, VoicePrint and AudioVision.

Because of VoicePrint, channel programmers describe, newspapers and magazines can be "heard," allowing people who can't independently access print due to, for example, blindness or physical impairment, low literacy skills or just getting older, to listen to in-depth articles from over 600 newspapers and magazines. VoicePrint can be accessed on the Secondary Audio Program of CBC Newsworld; on Star Choice (ch 825), ExpressVu (ch 49 & 967), Look TV (ch 400); Rogers Digital (ch 196) and Eastlink Digital (ch 394); and at www.voiceprintcanada.com.

Because of AudioVision, people who have vision restrictions can now "see" the action in movies and TV programs due to description. Many people have said description does for people with no or low vision what closed-captioning does for people with hearing impairments: it makes on-screen entertainment more accessible www.audiovisioncanada.com. AudioVision is a description pioneer and continues to offer quality described products and services.

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