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As one of 1.5 million Canadians living with sight loss, I was overjoyed that described video would be available for all shows during prime-time hours starting in September 2019, as mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC).
But now three Canadian broadcasters – Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc. – have petitioned the CRTC to exempt them from providing described video to non-Canadian programs received less than 72 hours prior to broadcast without described video.
Canadian broadcasters have known about this mandate since 2015, yet rather than working towards a solution to make television viewing accessible for four hours a day, Bell Media, Corus and Rogers have chosen to fight it. These broadcasters have indicated that described video would be included for airing at a later date. But why should Canadians with sight loss be excluded from watching TV with their friends and family? We pay the same subscription rates as everyone else, yet we only have access to a fraction of the programming. And if the broadcasters have their way, we'll have access "at a later date." Back in the 1970s, broadcasters fought against making television accessible for audience members who are deaf or hard of hearing, citing the same reason: there isn't enough time. Today, 100 per cent of all Canadian content includes closed captioning. If you agree that broadcasters should be doing more to make television accessible for blind Canadians, please let the CRTC know that you support described video. Visit cnib.ca/dv for details on how you can help.
Rachel Kitson (CNIB foundation's program lead),