As the European population ages in the coming decades, accessibility challenges will become more pronounced. For several years, international bodies such as the European Commission have focused their attention on accessibility, the aim being to engender a future society which will be truly 'inclusive'.
Digital switch-over presents a unique opportunity to look at strategies for improving access services on TV. EBU Members around Europe are ramping up their subtitling, audio description and signing services as can be seen from the most recent EBU survey on access services. One of the programmes that forms part of the EU e-Inclusion initiative is DTV4ALL, a thirty-month project that runs until the end of 2010. The DTV4ALL project is formed from a consortium of broadcasters, providers of access services and two research organisations, with the EBU as an associated partner. The project is working on two fronts:
Pilots & Proofs-of-concept
• pilots of mature access services such as DVB subtitles, live subtitling, audio description and signing, seek to identify the strategic issues holding back service availability and use
• proofs-of-concept work on emerging solutions for more cost-effective opportunities for e-inclusion, such as signing via hybrid broadcast/IP, local audio processing (clean or clear audio) and spoken EPGs and subtitles (using text-to-speech in TVs)
• user tests on DVB subtitles generated by a legacy system for teletext subtitles in analogue TV
• user tests on live subtitles created using re-speaking to evaluate errors, presentation issues and latency
• work on a road map to migrate standard definition signing services to high definition
• research with eye-tracking to clarify some of the issues associated with the reading of subtitles
The work of the project will feed into ongoing EBU dissemination and standardisation activities. For more information on DTV4ALL, please contact Peter Looms (DR) or e-mail Ed Wilson (EBU) for information on Access Services in general.