Over the years Deaf Australia has been very active in advocating for captioning in various media. This page includes information about only the most recent activities.

Deaf Australia has established a Captioning Working Group to work on strategies for improving captioning in Australia. The group met for the first time on 3 May 2013.

Read the May 2013 communique on the Outlook Blog here Read the September 2013 communique on the Outlook Blog here

TV captioning

Multichannel captioning – July 2013

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy proposed two options for captioning increases on TV multichannels. On 31 July 2013, Deaf Australia wrote to the Department rejecting both proposals and requesting the Department come up with a proposal that disallows decreases in current levels and requires 100% captioning on multichannels within three years.

Download a copy of the letter (PDF 26KB)

Broadcasting Services Act amendments – July 2012

Amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act became effective from 1 July 2012. These amendments include a requirement that all free-to-air TV programs broadcast between 6am and midnight must be captioned by 2015.

ACMA captioning quality standards for TV – January 2013

ACMA developed and introduced new standards for TV captioning quality on 5 June 2013. Prior to this, they held meetings with TV stations, caption suppliers and consumer representatives to discuss the standards. Deaf Australia attended these meetings. In partnership with ACCAN and Deafness Forum we also sent a letter to the Chair of ACMA on 24 July 2012 outlining our expectations for the standards.

Download a copy of the letter (PDF 175KB)

ACMA released a discussion paper and the draft standards late in 2012. Deaf Australia was very disappointed with the proposed standards and sent a submission to ACMA on 21 January 2013 requesting they be improved. However, ACMA did not accept our requests for measurable standards.

However, they did accept the need to provide information in Auslan on the ACMA website.

Information (including Auslan translations) about the current rules for captioning, the standards and how to make complaints is available here

Voluntary standards

For many years Deaf Australia, in collaboration with Deafness Forum and Media Access Australia, advocated for TV stations to comply with voluntary captioning guidelines and much work was done on developing guidelines that all could agree to. This included many meetings hosted by FreeTV and attended by Deaf Australia, Deafness Forum, MAA and the TV stations.


Cinema captioning

Deaf Australia had a representative on the Accessible Cinema Advisory Group from 2010 to 2013. The purpose of this group was to provide information and advice on the roll out of the accessible cinema access plan announced by the ‘big 4’ cinema chains on 17 July 2010. This plan greatly increased the number of cinemas screening captioned movies but also introduced closed captioning.

For information about this access plan, which is due for completion at the end of 2014, click here

There have been many problems with this roll out, many to do with the need to educate cinema staff, but also many issues with the Captiview technology used.

It remains Deaf Australia’s view that open captions (captions displayed directly on the cinema screen) is the preferred method of cinema captioning, and we continue to pursue strategies for advocating for this.


Captioning on DVDs and Blu-ray

Captioning on DVDs and Blu-ray has improved in recent years. The Australian Home Entertainment Distributors Association (AHEDA) promotes the provision of captioning. Complaints about lack of captioning on DVDs and Blu-ray can be made to them.

For information about the AHEDA Accessibility Framework for the Home Entertainment Film Industry and how to complain, click here

Captioning on Catch-up TV and Video on Demand

Free to air TV captioning will be 100% between 6am and midnight by 2015. However, much online catch-up TV on demand is still not captioned. ABC iView and SBS On Demand are the only online catch-up TV services that have captioning.


Captioning on Video on Demand services – iTunes, Telstra Bigpond etc – also is limited.

Deaf Australia has had some discussions about the issues for these formats and is investigating strategies for advocating for improvements.