Improving access to entertainment content

Source: The post is based on an article Improving access to entertainment content” published in The Hindu on 27th October 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Social Justice

Relevance: efforts needed to make movies disabled friendly

News: The article discusses the efforts that is required to make movies disabled friendly.

Movies should be made in such a way that even disabled can watch it and enjoy it. However, the efforts taken in India have not been successful in making movies disabled friendly.

What makes movies/entertainment content disabled friendly?

There are two important tools – a) audio description and b) subtitling.

Audio description refers to description of the visual in the form of audio so that it can benefit blind whereas subtitling refers to displaying the textual form of the audio component of the video so that it can benefit deaf.

However, the potential of these two tools have not been used in India and there has been a need for the remedy.

How has India taken step to make entertainment videos disabled friendly?

Law: The Rights of Persons with Disabilities (RPwD) Act provides guidance towards making entertainment content disabled friendly.

  • Section 29(h) of the Act provides that the government should take measures to ensure that persons with hearing impairment can have access to television programmes with sign language interpretation or sub-titles.
  • Section 42(ii) requires that the government should take measures to ensure that persons with disabilities have access to electronic media by providing audio description, sign language interpretation and close captioning.

Ministry: The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) issued a letter to the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC) in 2019.

  • It requested the Board to motivate and persuade its associated members to make audio description part of the production and distribution of a film.

App: Saksham has developed XL Cinema app which syncs audio-described tracks with movies. It helps the disabled person to hear the audio description of the movie at the same time when the movie is being showcased.

Some of the movies that have been audio described are – Sanju, Andhadun and Romeo Akbar Walter.

However, the steps taken by these organization are not enough and there is a further need for the improvement.

What is the way forward?

First, there is a need to put pressure on the production houses to provide audio description and subtitling. This will make the movie disabled friendly.

  • Further, the film studios must realize that making disabled-friendly content is morally, legally and commercially right.

Second, user organization must come up to help production houses that lack capabilities in making content disabled friendly. They must engage in engage in capacity-building initiatives.

Third, there is a need for the engagement of the civil society through legal process of making content disabled friendly.

  • Citizens with disabilities must demand accountability from the government, filmmakers, streaming platforms and others in the entertainment ecosystem through the judicial process.

Fourth, the I&B Ministry is taking efforts to notify the Accessibility Standards for Television Programmes for Hearing Impaired for three years. A similar standard must be framed for the visually impaired and a prompt action should be taken for its implementation.

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