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CRTC Let's Talk TV Phase 3 - Send us your comments by June 15th!

Over the past year, the CRTC has been engaging in a number of surveys, consultations, and feedback processes as it looks toward the future of television and broadcasting in Canada. On April 24th, the Commission posted a document outlining the scope and nature of the public consultation and hearing that will take place in the fall. This is a pretty lengthy document, because it considers significantly more than just the issues facing persons with disabilities and, more specifically, the blind, deaf-blind, and partially sighted communities. However, paragraph 89 and questions Q43 thru Q46 (which appear between paragraphs 89 and 90) are particularly relevant and are reproduced below.

Request for Comments: AEBC plans to prepare a written submission, and to seek an opportunity to present on these topics before the Commission. Please send your comments, questions, and ideas to Dar Wournell at dar@blindcanadians.ca before June 15th, 2014 to allow time to complete our report.

Here is what the CRTC says with respect to people with disabilities:

[89] Lastly, Canadians with disabilities currently have access to a number of features that make programs more accessible to them. However, they stated during Phases 1 and 2 that there is still work to be done, particularly with respect to service to people who are blind or visually impaired. For example, a simple way to access programming has been an ongoing issue. The remote controls provided by some BDUs require multiple button pushes to access described video, which can be challenging for members of this segment of the population. In addition, as noted by some participants during Phase 1, many platforms, including personal video recorders and other set-top boxes, mobile applications, and other platforms that require on-screen interaction are not accessible. Program guides are generally not usable by persons with visual disabilities. The Commission therefore wishes to explore whether there are means through which programming could be made more accessible.

Q43. What further actions can broadcasters take to improve the accessibility of programming for persons with disabilities, including, but not limited to the accessibility of program guides, regardless of the platform on which programming is broadcast?

Q44. What are the technical issues and costs of increasing the amount and quality of accessible programming, more specifically described video programming, in the system?

Q45. What are the technological barriers to improving the accessibility of features—like described video—to persons with disabilities?

Q46. How should the Commission and Canadians measure success with respect to ensuring that television services are made available and well promoted to underserved audiences?

For complete details, refer to Broadcasting Notice of Consultation CRTC 2014-190 at http://www.crtc.gc.ca/eng/archive/2014/2014-190.htm.

However, it needs to be more than "just us". The Commission and the broadcasters also need to hear from you, individually, about these accessibility issues and about what matters to you. The process to follow and the format that you should follow in making a submission is discussed at paras. 138 thru 148 of the public notice. Two things to note are that (1) if your submission is longer than five pages, you must include a summary; and (2) the three accepted methods of filing include: via an online form; by postal or snail mail; and by fax. In particular, it is not possible to submit a comment or submission via plain e-mail. The CRTC has not been known to have fool-proof accessibility. If you run into difficulties, you could call them to complain about the problem (1-877-249-2782). But AEBC can also file by fax if that proves simpler for you -- just contact us (a few days before June 25th to make sure we have time to do it!). In any event, if you send in your own comments, we would appreciate receiving a copy of your submission.

Archival Date: 
Monday, June 30, 2014