Sony champions TV for the blind

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Sony champions TV for the blind

Sony has launched an international campaign to improve television products and services for blind and partially sighted people.

The move follows the announcement that Sony's entire Bravia television range now provides access to Audio Description (AD) as standard.

Audio Description is an additional narrative soundtrack for blind or partially sighted people, explaining visual plot points during gaps in programme dialogue and enabling visually impaired people to follow the storyline more fully.

"We are all used to seeing and using subtitles on TV, but the technology exists to make a similarly useful service available for the 30 million or so visually impaired people in Europe," said Andreas Ditter, vice president of Sony Europe.

The integrated AD technology is a result of the development of a more powerful audiovisual processor capable of decoding multiple audio channels, thereby providing access to AD in addition to other aesthetic benefits.

Although AD is available on several television programmes across Europe, the UK is the only country in Europe which makes the provision of AD a legal requirement for key broadcasters.

These requirements follow a ruling from Ofcom in 2005, which stipulated that 76 channels must carry some degree of AD.

For instance, current regulations state that all BBC channels must provide AD for at least eight percent of programmes per week.

"I am delighted that all new Sony Bravia TVs will give people with a serious sight problem access to AD via Freeview in the UK," said Stephen King, group director of access and innovation for the Royal National Institute of Blind People.

"AD is a fantastic service that many blind and partially sighted people value, and we welcome the commitment from Sony to this service and congratulate them on their work in this area."

Sony said it is working with organisations for the visually impaired throughout Europe to increase the number of programmes, broadcasters and television manufacturers that offer the service across the continent.
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