European Union pushes for more accessibility on Audiovisual Media

2 October 2018
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A broad majority of Members of the European Parliament adopted today the new Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD), which includes mandatory provisions on accessibility for persons with disabilities.

Article 7 establishes that TV channels, both public and commercial, as well as video on-demand platforms, such as Netflix or HBO, will have to make their services “continuously and progressively more accessible to people with disabilities”. This means that there will be more subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing, audio description, sign language interpretation and spoken subtitles in, for example, TV programs, series, movies, documentaries and news.

This is a remarkable improvement compared to the former Directive in which this article was just an encouragement. This resulted in some EU Member States totally neglecting accessibility, while others have considerably advanced, thanks to making it obligatory in their national laws.

It also ensures that users will be able to lodge complains concerning media accessibility to contact point in every country. They will also be able to receive more information about media accessibility through this contact point. Emergency information which is broadcasted through TV channels, including public communications in natural disaster situations, must always be accessible to persons with disabilities.

Finally, the Directive article 7 also encourages media providers to publish action plans in respect of their accessibility, and assures regular reporting from each Member States to the Commission regarding it.

Next steps

  • The Directive will also be formally adopted by the Council of the EU, and will then be published in the Official Journal of the EU. After this, each Member State will have 21 months to “transpose” the Directive into national legislation.

  • Organisations of persons with disabilities will need to be proactive during these 21 months to make sure that article 7 on media accessibility will be well reflected and developed at national level.

  • EDF Secretariat will prepare a toolkit for the transposition of this Directive to facilitate this talk to all its members.

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