A wider range of New Zealanders will get better access to Parliament this week, with live closed captioning set to go live tomorrow.
Closed captions are live subtitles, when the text of live speech appears on screen with only a few seconds delay.
The New Zealand Captioning Working Group (CWG) is welcoming the move, saying it is a huge leap forward.
CWG chairperson, Louise Sinden-Carroll says the CWG is delighted with the announcement from The Clerk of the House of Representatives.
“New Zealand democracy has just taken a huge leap forward. Captions are a necessity for many Deaf and Hard of Hearing New Zealanders and a valuable service for many others,” Sinden-Carroll explains.
Research released at the end of July by NZ On Air shows 1 in 6 New Zealanders use captioning.
“In particular we applaud the leadership taken by the team at Parliament to ensure that the closed captions will be available across all platforms; on Broadcast television, the parliament website and in the Virtual House app for Apple iOS and Android mobile devices,” Sinden-Carroll says.
Parliament TV will be the first service in New Zealand to offer this.
The Captioning Working Group recently presented a petition to Parliament with more than 2,300 signatures asking, ‘that the House of Representatives legislate to ensure accessibility via closed captioning for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and other New Zealanders who need it, to access all broadcast, online and video mediums.’
“Without captions watching the news, a current affairs programme, the latest drama, movie or reality TV programme, becomes an exhausting and confusing lip reading challenge,” Sinden-Carroll explains.
“Without captions, many Deaf and Hard of Hearing people simply turn off. Some, with the knowledge of how to do it, are known to use technology to illegally source accessible content from overseas. Others feel isolated and left out,” she says.
“The addition of live captions to Parliament TV across multiple devices shows what can be achieved and is a very welcome addition to the New Zealand broadcasting landscape.”