I am absolutely thrilled that today Parliament launched its live closed captioning service. For the first time since my election, I am finally able to follow the debate in the house from my office!
Not only are closed captions available on broadcast Parliament TV they are available online via the parliament website and it gets even better! Closed captions are also available on mobile devices via the virtual house app.
So now you can follow parliamentary debates live wherever you are – on the bus, in a café or at a meeting.
The Captioning Working Group Chairperson Louise Sinden- Carroll says that “New Zealand democracy has just taken a huge leap forwards.”
I agree, this is a major milestone for Parliament. Recent figures released by NZ on Air show that one in six new Zealanders use captions. I have blogged before about how critical captions are for many people including myself.
It is worth reflecting on how this came about. Soon after my election to Parliament in 2011 an awesome woman, Merrin Macleod, was so incensed by the inaccessibility of Parliament and the initial refusal of the Speaker to fund my live transcribers that she launched a petition calling for live closed captioning of question time debates.
The petition and the resulting debate triggered a request by the Standing Orders Committee to Parliamentary Services to look at live captioning. Unfortunately, the initial trials did not go well and the project moved slowly.
However further trials with other companies produced much better results. The live captions we are getting now are of the best standard that I have ever experienced with high accuracy and only a few seconds delay.
Parliament has now set the bar for what is possible in live captions.
The Government Administration Select Committee inquiry into captioning has just closed and the submissions will be released next week. I will continue to push for Government to step up and bring in regulation for captioning in New Zealand.