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The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new in-depth analysis of European media law
How does Europe ensure better accessibility to audiovisual content for people with disabilities?

Download "Accessibility of audiovisual content for persons with disabilities" here

 

Given than roughly 1 in 4 Europeans have a long-term disability, it's time to look at international and European measures to ensure they can enjoy their favourite programmes in the best possible conditions.

This new report - Accessibility of audiovisual content for persons with disabilities - explores the ways in which international and European legislation, as well as national approaches, can help to improve accessibility to audiovisual content for those
of us with disabilities. 
 
Chapter one sets the scene with a useful typology of the various recognised disabilities and related measures. The authors explore the implications of blindness and partial sight, deafness and hearing loss and cognitive disabilities, for example, and their relation to the use of audiovisual media services.
 
Chapter two details the various United Nations measures to improve the rights of people with disabilities. The report analyses overarching measures such as the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Disability inclusion strategy
 
This chapter also zooms in to look specifically at the European Union framework. In general, the principle of non-discrimination and integration of  people with disabilities are enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union and the European Pillar of social rights. However more targeted European legislation such as the European Disability strategy and the European Accessibility Act exist in order to cater very specifically to needs such as enabling a blind person to select programmes on the television, for example. The personalisation of access services such as sub-titles or audio description also feature in these measures. But the main piece of European legislation pertaining to the audiovisual industries in relation to this question is the AVMSD (audiovisual media services directive). This chapter examines how this EU legal instrument has helped to establish a minimum level of accessible content as well as requiring that service providers under EU law gradually increase the level of accessibility to their content. It also looks into the availability of certain copyright protected works for persons with disabilities through the so-called Marrakesh and InfoSoc Directives.
 
Chapter three moves in to look at the national transposition of these dispositions and provides an overview of the current situation in the EU. This chapter also provides valuable case studies of eight very different European countries and their varying approaches to improving accessibility measures
 
Chapter four analyses the InfoSoc Directive and the specific articles which make provision for this question: articles (4) and 5 (3)b.  Again, the authors examine how these texts have been transposed at national level in the EU and also bring in stakeholders' perspectives on the various types of implementation. The authors also bring in vital questions of public funding for accessibility measures. What are the finances involved?
 
Chapter five looks at accessibility measures to audiovisual content which have been developed and implemented at national level via self- and co-regulation by the various branches of the industry such as broadcasters and video on demand services. Other non-legislative initiatives to help persons with disabilities access audiovisual content, such as the EBU's own expert group, the LEAD-ME and EasyTV initiatives are also explored. 
 
Chapter six offers a vital state of play résumé of accessibilty measures in Europe. The 2018 revision of the AVMSD did indeed ramp up the level of commitment of EU countries to “ensure without undue delay, that services provided by media service providers under their jurisdiction are made continuously and progressively more accessible to persons with disabilities”. The member states were asked to report back to the Commission at the end of 2022, and the results of this consultation are included in this report.
 
A further Observatory analysis of accessibility measures in Europe will be published in early 2024. And one determining factor for better accessibility measures, the use of AI, will be analysed by the Observatory teams next year.

Strasbourg 30 May 2023
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