At a reception sponsored by the RNIB, MP's were shown
how audio description works, watched a TV programme with and without audio description and spoke to blind and partially sighted people about the issues.
"There are around 3,000 visually impaired people in my constituency. The vast majority watch television regularly and would greatly benefit from audio description. Audio description is a voice that fits between the dialogue and describes the action or a look that a blind or partially sighted person would otherwise miss. Its benefit is comparable to sub-titling for those with hearing problems. "
"At present 4 per cent of programmes broadcast on digital terrestrial TV are audio described and this is set to rise to 10 per cent by 2010. But at present it makes no difference how much audio described TV is actually being broadcast since the equipment needed to receive the programmes in not generally available. Only 45 households involved in a trial are able to receive audio described programmes because the special module needed to receive the signal exists only as a prototype. Currently neither the government nor the industry is willing to put up the £3 million needed to get the module on the market. "
Digital TV also provides other problems for blind and partially sighted constituents. To even change channel you need to use a remote control and on-screen menu. Gone are the days of a few buttons on your TV. Interactive TV and using the internet through your TV are also closed to people with sight problems.