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09 06 2011 - Media release

Improved access means more audiences for Australian films

In a significant move to improve accessibility of Australian feature films for both the hearing and visually impaired, Screen Australia today announced that as a condition of funding it would require films to be delivered both captioned and audio described. It is already an existing requirement for films to be captioned.

This initiative follows recommendations from the Federal Government’s Media Access Review final report and provides some 600,000 blind or visually impaired Australians access to an audio described feature film experience.

Screen Australia CEO Ruth Harley said, “Better and more equitable audience access to Australian films at a reasonable cost is a benefit for the industry and community as a whole.”

The government is funding a national upgrade of cinemas to be caption and audio description compliant by 2013. The new requirement for Screen Australia–funded feature films to be both captioned and audio described will mean films are available in time for the completion of this upgrade.

“For some Australians it will mean being able to take their children to the cinema and share the experience of the film with them for the first time. For someone who has recently lost their sight it will mean they will not have to miss experiencing Australian films at the cinema,” said Dr Harley. 

The estimated average cost to provide both captioning and audio description for films will be $6–8,000 per film. Captioning currently costs producers between $3,000 and $5,000. The new requirement is in keeping with other countries such as the UK and US that already have strict requirements for both captioning and audio description in their respective markets.

Both captioning and audio description will be required on all feature films applying for Screen Australia investment after 1 July 2011.

Screen Australia will be updating the fact sheets and other information available on its website to provide a reference for producers about cost and processes of audio description as well as captioning.

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