Programming access for people who are blind or partially sighted: described video and audio description

Upcoming consultation on described video and audio description

Canada’s broadcasting system should provide programming that is accessible without barriers to persons with disabilities, including described video for individuals who are blind or partially sighted.

As part of our work to modernize Canada’s broadcasting framework, the CRTC announced that it will launch a public consultation to develop a policy for described video and audio description for online streaming services, on-demand services, and some elements of traditional TV.

Described video and audio description make programming accessible for people who are blind or partially sighted:

Why are described video and audio description important

Online streaming services, on-demand services, and traditional TV provide news and entertainment that reflect the wide range of ideas and perspectives that characterize Canadian society and culture. It is important for people who are blind or partially sighted to be able to access this programming in as complete a form as possible, so that all Canadians can participate in these mediums.

The CRTC, described video, and audio description

Larger television broadcasters must provide described video for all English- and French-language programming that is broadcast during prime time (i.e., from 7 pm to 11 pm) and that is drawn from the following categories:

In general, smaller television broadcasters must offer at least four hours of English- or French-language described programming drawn from the same categories per broadcasting week. The CRTC expects these smaller broadcasters to gradually increase the level of content available in described video.

Additionally, all programming supported by Certified Independent Production Funds, regardless of the platform on which it is distributed, must be provided with described video.

Described Video logo used for televised content with Described Video in Canada.

Broadcasters are expected to display the described video logo shown here, and to make an audio announcement before the start of a described program. They are encouraged to repeat the logo and audio announcement after each commercial break.

The CRTC has also set out expectations that all content offered with described video at some point in the broadcasting system be offered with described video when rebroadcast, and that where possible, on-demand services acquire and make available described versions of programming.

Broadcasters must also provide audio description for all in-house productions related to information-based programs.

Broadcasting distributors are required to make accessible hardware and remote controls available to subscribers, provided these are available and are compatible with their distribution systems.

Consult the described video summaries for information on the type of content containing described video, and the number of hours of programming with described video available.

Other services for people who are blind or partially sighted

Reading services other than described video and audio description are available to people who are blind or partially sighted. These include AMI-tv/AMI-télé, AMI audio (English-language service), and Canal M (French-language service).

Most television service providers are required to carry these services, which are usually provided as digital audio channels. Ask your provider how to access these services.

AMI-tv and AMI-télé

AMI-tv, and its French-language equivalent AMI télé, provide 24-hour digital service for a variety of described programming, such as movies, series, specials, current affairs, and original programs that can be enjoyed by everyone. All shows feature described video as part of the main soundtrack, and closed captioning, and no special equipment or extra steps are required to access this programming.

All television service providers with more than 2,000 subscribers must provide AMI-tv and AMI-télé in their package of basic services.

AMI-audio (English-language service)

AMI-audio (formerly Voiceprint) is the world’s largest broadcast reading service. It makes local, national, and international news and information accessible. Current articles from leading newspapers and magazines are read and recorded every day, and are broadcast on TV and online. AMI-audio also broadcasts original programs and described audio presentations of movies and TV shows. AMI-audio is a service of Accessible Media Inc.

Canal M (French-language service)

Canal M (formerly La Magnétothèque) is a 24-hour-a-day newspaper reading service for people who are blind, partially sighted, or those with a print disability. It also offers original programming.

Making a complaint

For complaints related to described video and audio description, you can contact the CRTC:

The CRTC also accepts complaints about the accessibility of billing and services. For example, if you ask your television service provider to submit your bill in Braille and it doesn't do so, contact the company again. If you're still not satisfied, you can submit a complaint with the CRTC.

For more information, see How to make a broadcasting complaint.

CRTC Decisions and Regulatory Policies

For more information about described video and audio description:

For more information about AMI-audio and Canal M:

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