South Africa: Mixed Response to DSTV Deaf Plan

Technology & Convergence

Multichoice's decision to cater for deaf people by including subtitles in its bouquet, announced last week, has received mixed reactions from deaf personalities who are concerned that its reach will be limited to the rich. A small group of deaf and hard of hearing people, nominated by DeafSA, is testing subtitling software on the DStv personal video recorder. They form part of a field trial before the final review of subtitling software is released to the broader customer base, scheduled for October.

Nenio Mbazima, a deaf television film director and owner of Kala Picture Factory, said : "What MultiChoice is planning to do will not change anything as many deaf people cannot afford the cost of a DStv decoder and subscriptions.

"I think they are just wasting their time and money. It is companies like SABC and e.tv , which are free to view, which should be doing what MultiChoice plans to do." Carla Zille, who is hard of hearing and a deaf mentor from the Hi Hopes Programme based at the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies, said she was puzzled as to why SA was so far behind the rest of the world in terms of catering for the deaf.

Guy McIlroy of the Wits Centre for Deaf Studies said: "As a deaf parent, I would love to have more access to films that have subtitles. Trust me, I know how easy it is to misread someone's lips."

MultiChoice corporate affairs GM Jackie Rakita said: "Our interactions with the deaf and hard of hearing community imparted valuable information as well as a greater understanding of the daily hurdles that they face." Subtitling is already available on some M-Net movie channels.

(Business Day (Johannesburg), 2 July 2007)

§ SACOMM CONFERENCE 2007 : The African Landscape (19th-21st September 2007, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein, South Africa)

§ Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA) Namibia gala dinner – Media Awards (June 30th 2007, Windhoek, Namibia)

§ 4th Amakula Kampala International Film Festival (May 1-13, 2007, Kenya)

§ 19th SAB Environmental Journalists of the Year Awards (11th October 2007, Johannesburg)

§ Marekebisho Media Awards (6th July 2007, Nairobi)