In the picture: TV networks to make sure Deaf community included in major announcements

Members of the Deaf community will now be able to take in major public broadcasts at the same time as family, friends and colleagues via Auslan interpretation, following a settlement between Deaf Australia and commercial television networks.

Free TV, the industry body which represents networks Seven, Nine and Ten has agreed to change its policy to ensure that where Auslan interpreters are provided for public announcements, they will be included in the picture that is broadcast.

This change follows advocacy from Deaf Australia, represented by the Public Interest Advocacy Centre. The issue was raised after the Auslan interpreter at the announcement of the same-sex marriage postal survey result was not included in frame on the commercial television networks while the results were being broadcast.

‘Many members of the Deaf community were excluded – completely unnecessarily – from an important moment in Australian history,’ said Jonathon Hunyor.

‘Providing services in a way that unreasonably excludes people with disability is simply not good enough and is likely to be unlawful. We are very pleased that Free TV has agreed to this simple but significant step towards making important broadcasts more accessible,’ said PIAC CEO, Jonathon Hunyor.

It is estimated that up to 20,000 people use Auslan regularly, and numbers are growing. Australia lags behind many countries in the provision of Auslan interpretation on television.

Under a revised ‘Advisory Note for Emergency Information Broadcasts’, when official sign language interpreters are provided at major news conferences, official briefings regarding emergencies, or public announcements of national significance, commercial television station licensees will have to take all reasonable steps to ensure that interpreters are included in the camera shot and in a manner where they can be clearly seen.

‘There has been some good progress in recent years, with Auslan interpreters often included in emergency broadcasts. We are pleased this will now extend to other important government, community and sporting announcements, when there is an interpreter present,’ said Jonathon Hunyor. 

Media contacts:

PIAC Media and Communications Manager, Gemma Pearce – 0478 739 280

Deaf Australia CEO, Kyle Miers – 0458 256 796 (text message only)


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