Letter to the editor: This television program will resume “at a later date”

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I’m watching TV with my family. Suddenly, something happens on screen and the room erupts in laughter, but I don’t know why – the broadcasted content is not described.

As one of 1.5 million Canadians living with sight loss, I was overjoyed when I learned described video would be available for all shows during prime-time as of September 2019, as mandated by the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). 

Canadian broadcasters have known about this mandate since 2015, but three of them – Bell Media Inc., Corus Entertainment Inc. and Rogers Media Inc. – have recently petitioned the CRTC to exempt them from providing described video for non-Canadian programs received less than 72 hours prior to broadcast.

Described video is not just a way to access entertainment. It levels the societal playing field by allowing everyone to enjoy popular culture and participate in water cooler conversations. Why should Canadians with sight loss be isolated and excluded from watching TV with their friends and family? I want to laugh at the same things that other people are laughing at. I pay the same subscription rates, but I only have access to a fraction of the programming. And, if the broadcasters have their way, I’ll have access “at a later date”. 

If you believe broadcasters should be doing more to make TV accessible, please let the CRTC know (before May 16) that you support described video. Visit cnib.ca/dv to get involved.

Larissa Proctor

Program Lead, Advocacy and Accessible Communities

CNIB Foundation, Ontario West

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