Recommendations on Media Accessibility launched from key stakeholders in the field

by Alina Ostling

In October, the EU-funded Media Accessibility Platform (MAP)* project held its first international conference in Vigo, Spain. The aim was to promote and foster debate on the present and future of media accessibility, as a tool for social and cultural inclusion of people with specific needs, such as deaf and blind users, persons with cognitive disabilities, foreign audiences, children, and the elderly in Europe and beyond.

The conference culminated in a list of recommendations based on the two days of intensive conference discussions. The opening recommendations call for a more human-centred approach to media access by the EU and for concrete targets in terms of quality and quantity of media access services in Europe. The hope is that this list of recommendations may serve as a basis for developing future actions in the area of media accessibility in Europe. 

The first day was dedicated to discussions about two main pieces of European legislation in the field of accessibility: the European Accessibility Act (EAA) and the new the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD). Joanna Wrona, from the European Commission, presented the latest developments regarding these two acts, which are expected to be approved between 2017-2018.

During the conference, representatives from both civil society and industry discussed the current situation with accessibility in public service media (PSM) and the type of European legislative that is desirable and feasible. Moreover, user associations and the European Commission debated media accessibility in the EU and the expectations towards the EAA and the revised AVMDS. Alina Ostling from the Centre for Media Pluralism and Media Freedom (CMPF), presented the 2016 Media Pluralism Monitor results on access to media for people with hearing and visual impairments. The results suggest that the regulatory framework is in place across Europe. However, in many of the countries, policies are still underdeveloped, incomprehensive or not followed-up. This is also reflected by the situation in practice, where in the majority of countries support services,  especially for people with visual impairments, are lacking.

* Media Accessibility Platform (MAP) is the first digital cloud-based platform covering matters related to research, training, professional practice and legislation regarding audiovisual translation and media accessibility around the world. It aims to create the first multi-stakeholder platform to coordinate work on media accessibility done at an international level.