Fall 2019 Described Video Requirements for Canadian Broadcasters


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Most broadcast programs lack video description – an accommodation for blind and low vision users. In Canada, though, that’s about to change.

By September 2019, certain Canadian broadcasters will need to start providing described video for programming during prime time hours.

This comes after an initiative by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) that resulted in the decision to increase the availability of described video.

What is Described Video?

Described video, also known as audio description, depicts the important visual elements in a video within the natural pauses of the audio. It was created as an accessibility accommodation for blind and low vision users.

Described video helps paint a picture of what is going on in the program. It is often compared to a sports announcer narrating a baseball game on the radio.

Why is Described Video Important?

It’s important to make television accessible to all individuals, including those who are blind and low vision, so that they can participate in the “everyday” medium of watching prime time television.

 👉 Read the Ultimate Guide to Audio Description   

What do the New Described Video Requirements State?

Certain Canadian broadcasters will need to provide described video seven days a week during prime time hours (7PM to 11PM).

Other non-exempt broadcasters are required to provide four hours of programming with described video per week.

Newscasts and sports are exempt from these requirements.

CRTC requirements for described video state that by September 2019, Certain Canadian broadcasters will need to provide described video seven days a week during prime time hours (7PM to 11PM).

Past CRTC Described Video Requirements

In 2009, the CRTC passed a policy requiring:

  • Broadcasters to provide audio description for all in-house productions related to information-based programs.
  • Conventional broadcaster, including French and English, to offer four hours of described video weekly
  • All broadcasters to try to describe video before publishing online

Broadcasters were also asked to display the described video logo and make an announcement that audio description is available before the start of a program and after each commercial break.

 👉 Watch the free webinar Intro to Audio Description   

How to Get Started with Described Video

Audio descriptions can be created in-house or outsourced to a professional description company. When selecting an audio description vendor, you’ll need to take into account the cost, the vendor’s process, if they will allow you to edit the descriptions, how you can publish the descriptions, and most importantly, the quality of the descriptions.

While described video can be ordered after the production of a program, its best practice to continuously think about the description of a video throughout the production process, that way, when it comes time to describe the video, you’ll know what the important elements to focus on are.

3Play Media provides high-quality, competitively priced described video services for all industries. Click below to learn more 👇

get started with described video

This blog post is written for educational and general information purposes only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. This blog should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

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