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Media Accessibility: International Guidelines and the Development of Descriptive Video Standards

Proposal No: 233

Bios & Handouts


Disability Area:          

Topic Area:                

Length of Session (in hours): 1Format: Lecture Expertise Level: All Levels Type of session: General Conference

Summary of Session

The accessibility of media broadcasting technologies and applications through television, audio, the web and mobile platforms requires the establishment of industry recognized descriptive video standards.


Everyone has the right to be able to gain access to media in all forms. Whether it is the news, weather, sports, popular shows and movies, web or mobile content; accessibility will ensure universal inclusion. Accessibility meets the needs of the widest possible audience and comes in many forms to meet the equally many needs of that audience by providing the same experience for everyone. Descriptive video has not been established as a broadcast industry standard. Recognized as both a science and an art form, the availability, distribution and production of descriptive video is not significant in comparison to main stream or even closed captioned content. This results in a lack of uniformity of content. The accessibility of media is important for inclusion in any culture. International accessibility focused guidelines and the establishment of descriptive video standards are required to ensure universality.


  1. The importance of media accessibility in cultural inclusion.
  2. What description video, or more commonly audio description, is and why it`s important.
  3. Canada`s recognition of the need for media accessibility.

Speaker Bio(s)

Robert Pearson

Robert is the Accessibility Officer for Accessible Media Inc. (AMI) in Canada and has been functioning, influencing, and engaging in the accessibility industry since 1999. Robert joined AMI in April, 2011 as Director, Accessible Digital Media responsible for leading AMI's efforts to improve the accessibility of digital media, develop and manage AMI's relationships with likeminded and accessibility focused organizations and to liaise with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission on various initiatives. In his role as Accessibility Officer, Robert's focus is on establishing and maintaining AMI as a leader and standard bearer on media accessibility by setting and influencing accessibility standards and best practices, shaping organization policies and practices and encouraging the development of technology and industry solutions that contribute to creating an inclusive environment within AMI and with their external partners.