CBC announces expansion of accessibility initiative to make Canadian public radio available to deaf and hard-of-hearing Canadians

November 23, 2016, Toronto

Daily transcripts of As It Happens and new audio player tool now available

CBC today announced plans to expand its ongoing efforts to make radio content accessible to an estimated 1 to 3 million* Canadians who are otherwise unable to listen. This expansion includes daily transcripts of CBC Radio One’s As It Happens, and the design and development of a new audio player tool.

In February 2016, with the help of a grant from the Broadcasting Accessibility Fund (BAF), CBC launched a pilot project to make text transcripts of CBC Radio One’s The Current available to the public on a daily basis, and to film, edit and post one American Sign Language (ASL) interpreted radio documentary from the program on CBC.ca each month. Unprecedented in Canadian media and a first for CBC Radio, the initiative has made public radio accessible to millions across the country who are deaf or hard of hearing. Since the project’s launch, The Current’stranscripts have been viewed more than 100,000 times.

"As the public broadcaster, CBC exists to serve all Canadians. They want us to be where they are, on their terms, and we take that responsibility very seriously every day,” said Susan Marjetti, executive director, CBC Radio & Audio English Services. “By expanding on what has been a very successful and innovative initiative, CBC is strengthening its commitment to make vital, distinctly Canadian programming more accessible to all.”

Based on the success of this initiative, and with the help of a second BAF grant, daily text transcripts of CBC Radio One’s As It Happens will now also be made available through the program’s website for Canadians to read, print and share, along with a new audio player tool. Embedded on all transcript pages generated for both The Current and As It Happens, the new audio player tool enables users to listen and read along to individual show segments or to entire episodes of either program. This new tool will also be retroactively added to existing archives of transcriptions, so that an extensive library of transcribed audio will be available to read along and listen. The ability to read along and listen is especially useful for hard-of-hearing Canadians (where hearing loss ranges from mild to severe) who may also need text to follow.

"This is such a welcome development,” said As It Happens host Carol Off. “Transcribed interviews make our programs available topeople with hearing disabilities and also to those who might have a hard time following an interview because it's on a phone line. This service also gives new Canadians who are in the process of learning the language another way to access our programs that will enhance the experience for them.”

Hosted by Carol Off and Jeff Douglas, As it Happens bring listeners the stories behind the stories of the day. It is a beloved program that has been a nightly ritual on CBC Radio One since 1968. Over the course of an average week, the show reaches more than 1.6 million Canadians and countless more American who tune in via 102 public radio stations across the United States.

*source: Canadian Hearing Society

About CBC/Radio-Canada

CBC/Radio-Canada is Canada's national public broadcaster and one of its largest cultural institutions. We are Canada’s trusted source of news, information and Canadian entertainment. Deeply rooted in communities all across the country, CBC/Radio-Canada offers diverse content in English, French and eight Indigenous languages. We also provide international news and information from a uniquely Canadian perspective.

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