South African TV slammed over its ongoing treatment of the deaf

2018-02-23 10:00
 
Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen

Cape Town – On Tuesday broadcasters were slammed in parliament for their ongoing treatment of the deaf and other people with disabilities.

While the rest of the world's TV industry is much further advanced than South Africa with things like instant subtitling, closed captioning (CC) and sign language interpreters for important TV programming, the country is still struggling to meet the very basic needs and mandated requirements for people with disabilities watching television.

HUGELY HYPED PROMISES OF DIGITAL TERRESTRIAL TELEVISION 

Even YouTube now provides automatically provides a toggle for subtitles and closed captioning on videos, South African television lags far behind its now decade-old and hugely hyped promises of digital terrestrial television (DTT) that would offer similar kinds of services for hearing-impaired viewers. 

THIS IS HOW YOUTUBE’S CLOSE CAPTIONING WORKS:

WILMA NEWHOUDT-DRUCHEN, SOUTH AFRICA'S FIRST DEAF FEMALE MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT

Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen, ANC MP and South Africa's first deaf female member of parliament has had enough, and made her frustration known about the ongoing lack of consideration from the government and South African broadcasters when it comes to deaf viewers.

Ironically her speech – available on YouTube – comes with automatic closed captioning in a way that it wasn't provided by the SABC and the Parliamentary TV channel and should be done on South African television according to regulations set out long ago by the broadcasting regulator.

WATCH HER SPEECH HERE:

HERE’S MORE OF WHAT THE MP HAD TO SAY:

"The deaf people have been watching what's been happening over the past two years. And when the previous president [Jacob Zuma] announced on TV that he would resign, the national director of the Deaf Federation of South Africa got a lot of messages on his phone because there was no interpreter provided," said Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen. "What's happening? We don't understand what's going on. We also want to know what's going on in the country".

“Send it to other deaf people so that they can have a look and read why their president was leaving.”

"Unfortunately – fortunately for some people – and unfortunately for a majority of the people. You know, I can go to Sky News (DStv 402) – it’s not our channel, it's not South African. It's fully sub-titled."

"Why the president [Jacob Zuma] is talking, and the reason he is resigning – I had an opportunity to film it and put it on Facebook. To send it to other deaf people so that they can have a look and read why their president was leaving.

"e.tv had nothing. SABC – our channel – had nothing. And I'm asking you to speak to the SABC. Important national news – people with disabilities need to be included, including deaf people with what is happening in the news."

"I have to applaud DStv. Deafsa has been lobbying with them to make their programmes more accessible through subtitles. And I strongly believe that subtitles is the answer for literacy for children and adults. Literacy is very important."

"Now DStv has added – it’s not just Sky News – but they've added a children's channel, Nickelodeon, a channel for children, which is now subtitled. Not all of it, not all programmes, but some."

"Department of communications, you need to lobby with the SABC. I have been on this committee for a very long time and I have lobbied and lobbied for access to information through subtitles. The best part where we can get access to information is on television. So please encourage the SABC to get more things subtitled. More is needed,especially in regard to current news and current events," said Wilma Newhoudt-Druchen. 

She also took the department of communications and the minister of communications, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, to task for saying "the department will publish digital radio directives to address issues of the deaf. Me as a deaf person cannot hear the radio. Deaf people do not hear the radio."

"If it's digital radio that becomes print, oh wonderful, I'm going to be very happy if whatever is said on radio is printed so that I can read it."


Read more on:    dstv  |  sabc  |  tv

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