Durkan backs campaign for equal access to TV for deaf & blind people

SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan.
SDLP MP for Foyle, Mark Durkan.

SDLP Foyle MP Mark Durkan has supported a new campaign to stop deaf and blind people in Derry and throughout the North being excluded from on-demand TV content.

Mr Durkan has given his backing to the Subtitle It! campaign by charity ‘Action on Hearing Loss’ which is calling for new legislation to be introduced that will mean people with sight and hearing loss are able to watch fully accessible video-on-demand services with subtitles, signing and audio description.

The rise of on-demand, streaming and catch-up services has led to the way people watch television content being transformed which, Parliament could not have foreseen when it passed the 2003 Communications Act. The Act led to huge improvements in the provision of subtitles on traditional TV, but it is now 12 years old, and technology has outgrown it.

Mr Durkan said: “The way TV is watched has transformed over recent years – but far too many people with hearing loss are missing out on enjoying the latest shows because subtitles are absent from thousands of hours of ‘on demand’ content.

“I am therefore supporting the Subtitle It! campaign which aims to stop people being digitally excluded so that they are able to watch television content when and how they want to.”

Paul Breckell, Chief Executive at charity Action on Hearing Loss said: “We are delighted that Mark Durkan is backing the Subtitle It! campaign and is calling on the Government to bring in legislation so that people who are deaf and hard of hearing in Northern Ireland can have the same viewing experience as their hearing peers.”

Action on Hearing Loss works jointly with Sense and RNIB to improve access to TV for people with sight and hearing loss. To find out more about their campaign visit www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/subtitleit