A new law was passed by the Austrian National Council at the end of last year, providing the ground for accessible television and radio broadcasting. Implementing the EU directive on audiovisual media services, the law will force providers of such services to broaden their accessible content. According to the planned time frame, the content of the Austrian national broadcasting company ORF has to be fully accessible by the year 2030.
For the Austrian Federation of the Blind and Partially Sighted (BSVÖ), which has been lobbying for such changes for years, a vital part of the new law is the obligation to publish action and stage plans for the implementation of accessible content, thus holding the broadcasting companies responsible and allowing disability organizations to monitor the developments. Another important step was the inclusion of private companies as well as streaming platforms, which so far have ignored the necessity for sign language, audio description, subtitles or easy to read content almost completely.
“Blind and partially sighted people like to watch TV as well and inform themselves via television programs. Until now, they were excluded from most content. I am therefore very happy that this has to change now!” says BSVÖ president Dr. Markus Wolf. “Accessible information and entertainment programs are a question of equal participation and equal rights.”