Hearing impaired can access prime time news on Doordarshan


New Delhi : Going beyond just a weekly sign language news bulletin for the hearing impaired, national broadcaster Doordarshan will now make prime time news accessible to this section of the population through running scrolls and subtitles.

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Javed Abidi, director of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People (NCPEDP), Friday said even though the decision had come late, India had finally joined other countries in giving the right to information to the hearing impaired population.

“In most developed countries, subtitling of television programmes is a very normal thing. Even the not so developed nations like Thailand are doing it for their deaf citizens. Unfortunately, in India the awareness has been so low that our policymakers and decision-makers did not even think of it,” Abidi said.

The move comes after a meeting of NCPEDP members with officials at the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) in late March. The two sides had been discussing the issue for a while.

“The demand for subtitling television programmes was first raised by the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) about two years ago, but the government did not take it very seriously. But after we took it up as one of our demands on World Disability Day Dec 3 last year, things started moving,” he added.

Coming close on the heels of making government websites accessible to the blind, this decision, Abidi said, was a matter of great happiness to the disabled population and those working for their rights.

“However, our aim is to ensure that the entire programming on television, at least as far as public broadcasters are concerned, is made accessible. We also aim to extend this dialogue with the private sector,” he said.

“The cost of making these changes is negligible. What is needed is awareness and sensitivity and a certain sociopolitical will on the part of the decision-makers,” Abidi added.