Digital Television and Hard of Hearing Audiences in Wales report released on Tuesday 25 November.
The report looks at the communication barriers facing hard of hearing audiences after the digital switchover in Wales. Read the report here: Report: Digital Television and Hard of Hearing Audiences in Wales (pdf)
Launched at the Senedd and hosted by Ann Jones AM, Chair of the Cross Party on Deaf Issues, the report has called for more to be done to ensure that opportunities made possible by the digital switchover are fully utilized in order to ensure a positive viewing experience for deaf and hard of hearing audiences.
The report was conducted by lead researcher Dr Yan Wu, and Dr Elain Price, and Dr Leighton Evans, and was part of a research project based at the Research Institute of Arts and Humanities, Swansea University, funded by Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, BBC Wales, Bridging the Gaps Fund, Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol and S4C.
The study highlighted that subtitles are the most important facilitating tool for deaf and hard of hearing audiences in their understanding of television programming. Common problems associated with sound quality and subtitles affect both the wider audience as well as deaf or hard of hearing audience. However, for the deaf or hard of hearing audience, where a significant number rely on digital hearing aids (68%) and also lip read (about one third), the demand for better sound quality and better subtitling service is more acute.
Richard Williams, Director of Action on Hearing Loss Cymru, said: “People with hearing loss in Wales rely on subtitling to have equal access to TV services. This is not a luxury it is an essential service.
Image l-r : Yan Wu, Ann Jones AM, Richard Williams (Action on Hearing Loss Wales Director) and Elain Price.
“There have been some improvements to subtitles, but there is still plenty of work to be done to ensure that the one-in-five people with hearing loss in Wales have equal access to TV.
“We hope broadcasters will take action and improve the quality of their subtitling as a result of the strong views in this report and we will continue to work with TV channels and decision makers in Wales, to ensure this is the case.”
Ann Jones AM, Chair of the Cross Party Group on Deaf Issues, added: “This is a comprehensive and important study into the inclusion of deaf people in broadcasting.
“Many deaf people often tell us that there is not enough provision for them and I want to see this change”.
Talk to the Local Community October 2014
Researchers from Swansea University who spent a year looking into the impact of digital switchover on the life of the deaf and hard of hearing audiences in Wales came to talk to Swansea Hard of Hearing Group on 3 October. This jointly funded project helped public broadcasting service such as the BBC Cymru and S4C gaining a better understanding of some of the benefits that digital television have brought to viewers, and some of the barriers to enjoying television services that affect viewers who have hearing loss. Researcher identified a number of communication barriers, mainly in the areas of sound quality and subtitles, facing people who are deaf or hard of hearing in Wales in accessing information, education and entertainment via digital television.
Talk at the Senedd September 2014
Dr Yan Wu and Dr Elain Price were invited to give a talk on Digital Switchover and Hard of Hearing Audiences in Wales to the All Party Group on Deaf Issues (APGDI) on 23 September at the Senedd in Cardiff Bay. The talk is based on their recently completed research project investigating the communication barriers facing the deaf and hard of hearing audiences after the Digital Switchover. Ann Jones AM chaired the meeting. National Assembly Members from the four parties and members from representative groups and relevant stakeholders also attended the meeting. Swansea University researchers made recommendations to the public broadcasters, regulators and not-for-profit by the end of the talk, aiming to improve digital inclusiveness for deaf and hard of hearing viewers. The APGDI, first established in October 2000, aims to promote equality of opportunity and access for deaf and hard of hearing people in Wales (image l-r: Mark Isherwood AM, Dr Yan Wu, Dr Elain Price and Ann Jones AM).
Digital Switchover and Social Inclusion roundtable in Swansea June 2014
A roundtable on digital switchover and its impact on social inclusion was held on campus on 25 June, 2014 (image above). Industry partners from the BBC Cymru, S4C and Action on Hearing Loss Wales; a community member from Hard of Hearing and Deaf Society, Swansea; as well researchers from aging research group, computer science, history, language and translation, media studies, and politics took part in the event. Dr Yan Wu (Department of Political and Cultural Studies), who organised the event, recently completed a survey report on Digital Switchover and Hard of Hearing Audiences in Wales funded by the industry partners and Swansea University. The roundtable generated interesting conversation over the implications of digital switchover on public policy and media practice. Participants also exchanged ideas on possible research collaboration in the area of the social inclusion after the digital switchover in Wales.