Towards greater accessibility

Danial Norjidi

The Framework for Promoting Accessibility for All in ASEAN Digital Broadcasting was endorsed by ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information on December 14, 2020.

According to a press statement, the framework provides guidelines for ASEAN member states to promote broadcasting access services, namely closed captions; audio description; and sign language.

The guidelines aim to enhance cooperation on, development of, and commitment to broadcasting access services among ASEAN member states.

The statement noted: “Recognising that it is crucial for all groups of people to receive accurate and timely public information, especially in times of crises and natural disasters, the framework was introduced as the concept ‘Accessibility for All’ by Thailand at the 4th and 5th Senior Officials Meeting Responsible for Information Working Group on ASEAN Digital Broadcasting, held in Bangkok in July 2018 and July 2019.

“The concept refers to the above-mentioned broadcasting access services, which will create opportunities and reduce barriers for all groups of people, enabling them to gain access to broadcasting content.”

It was shared that three key stakeholders – government, broadcasters/private sector, and people and civil society – will be engaged to promote and implement broadcasting access services in ASEAN member states.

“The framework and its implementation will help to ensure that people have access to information and content, and that broadcasters and media organisations will fulfil their responsibility in providing broadcasting services to all groups of people. The Framework will also ensure the realisation of ASEAN as an inclusive and resilient community.”

The framework provides recommended actions for each stakeholder as a guideline for the promotion and implementation of broadcasting access services in ASEAN member states. It notes that each member state may apply the recommendations to better suit its national context.

For governments or related state agencies, the framework provides six recommendations: recognise and give priority to national policies, or develop regulations for broadcasters, especially state-run agencies, encouraging them to provide public broadcasting access services; encourage cooperation, knowledge sharing and best practices among ASEAN member states and broadcasters; support broadcasters in their implementation of broadcasting access services, through provision of funding, facilities, and technical support and training; foster research and development in technology and related matters, as well as collaborating with regional and international partners; collect feedback and preferences from target audiences and utilise them to develop policies and standards for better broadcasting access services; and expand access services to other media platforms, including digital media and emerging forms of media.

Meanwhile, the three recommendations for broadcasters/private sector are: promote awareness of the importance of broadcasting access services to broadcasters and media practitioners and their roles, as well as highlighting markets and business opportunities for broadcasting access services; study the possibilities for providing broadcasting access services and developing a code of practices for the services; and seek cooperation with state agencies and business partners from the public and private sectors locally and regionally.

Three recommendations are also shared for people/civil society: know or recognise their rights and benefits, and utilise broadcasting access services in ways to access information and content that fulfil their needs; work together with stakeholders in developing broadcasting access services; equip people with media and information literacy and digital competency for creatively and responsibly utilising broadcasting access services for their daily lives, including creating quality content.

The statement added that the framework was built on the shared goals of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), the ASEAN Vision 2025 for building an inclusive and resilient community, measures to promote a high quality of life and equitable access to opportunities and to protect human rights, as outlined in the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Blueprint 2025, and the overarching message of “ASEAN: A Community of Opportunities for All”, detailed in the ASEAN Communication Master Plan II (2018-2025).

It was also shared that the Framework will be one of the outcome documents of the 15th ASEAN Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) meeting, to be hosted by Thailand in February.