On September 21, 2022, CNIB facilitated another discussion with Canadian broadcasters regarding the delivery of described video services. Members of the sight loss community were invited to speak directly with four leading Canadian broadcasters; Bell Media, CBC, Corus Entertainment and Rogers Communications.
The first of these sessions was held three years earlier coinciding with new delivery targets set by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). The expectations set out by the CRTC is that most programming aired between 7:00 and 11:00 – prime time, is to be aired with described video. These expectations came into force as of September 1, 2019.
There are few exceptions to these expectations, most noteworthy is that any content received within 24 hours of going to air without described video can be broadcast. However, any such programming must be described before being aired a second time.
CNIB continues to encourage all broadcasters regardless of which platform their programming is delivered to continue to increase the amount of programming with described video. While prime time programming – 28/hours week is greater than any other country, it still represents less than 17% of all programming aired over conventional broadcasting outlets. And this doesn’t even consider streaming or over the top programming. Canada has set the bar higher than any other country, but much more is needed before Canadians living with sight loss have equitable access to entertainment.
During the townhall, broadcasters identified some of the biggest challenges facing the delivery of programming with described video. These include:
- software to software communication challenges;
- web integration;
- hardware platforms; and
- third-party productions.
Broadcasters shared that they have prioritized making their content more accessible and available in as many programs as possible.
Panelists discussed the Accessible Canada Act (ACA) expectations to consult with persons with disabilities.
In summary, the purpose of the ACA is to realize a Canada without barriers by 2040. Federally regulated entities such as Canadian broadcasters are expected to establish feedback mechanisms through which Canadians living with disabilities have an accessible means by which barriers can be communicated.
Broadcasters stated that while the ACA has only been in force for a relatively short period of time, to date, there has been very little feedback received from the community of persons with disabilities. At the same time, several comments from those present indicated little knowledge of these feedback mechanisms.
Participants brought several issues to the attention of the four broadcasters present. These were:
- quality of synthesized described video;
- inaccuracies in DV;
- news programming requirements;
- video on demand (VOD),
- subscription services;
- third party news feeds;
- display of undescribed data on the screens from feeds containing numbers and figures for example currency, stock market numbers or weather related,
- actionable good feedback channels not just a generic feedback form that is sent via the broadcaster’s customer complaints section,
Several of the broadcasters indicated that they are working with customer experience companies to access the useability and accessibility of their products and services to see how they can make beneficial changes. They also encouraged the participants and individuals that require accessible video to provide timely feedback on programs that are inadequately described or not accessible as there is now a dedicated person responsible to resolve complaints as a requirement of the new accessibility regulations.
Audio descriptions for newscasts and sports are CRTC exempted, participants indicated that occasionally it was included. The broadcasters shared they believe they have made significant investments to advance described video by using synthesized describe video technologies for programming. Although, synthesised DV is not perfect at this time, issues related to pronunciation of words or intonations are still being worked on as the technology matures.
Below is the individual contact information for accessibility issues related to the programming of Bell Media, CBC, Corus, and Rogers.
If you have a concern specific to the Described Video or Audio Description of a program, please provide the following information.
- The Program you were watching
- The date and time you were watching
- The station the program was on
- The City and Province you are watching from
- Your Cable or Satellite provider if applicable
- The Platform you were watching on if not Cable or Satellite. For Example, by Antenna, Stack TV, Crave, CBC Gem, GlobalTV.ca, etc.
Bell Accessibility Feedback: email@example.com
Described video feedback/comments: DV@bellmedia.ca
Bell accessibility webpage: https://www.bell.ca/Accessibility_services
CBC Accessibility Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
CBC accessibility webpage: https://www.cbc.ca/accessibility/accessibility-feedback-1.5131151
Corus Entertainment Accessibility Feedback: email@example.com
Described video feedback/comments: DVatCorus@corusent.com
Corus Entertainment accessibility webpage: https://www.corusent.com/accessibility/
Rogers Accessibility Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Described video feedback/comments:email@example.com
Rogers accessibility webpage: https://www.rogers.com/accessibility