Advanced Television

AC4 codec needed for ‘true accessibility’

April 17, 2019

Following our item regarding Sky making Game of Thrones accessible to the visually impaired, Rick Moore of the UK’s Royal National Institute for the Blind got in touch:

“The headline would be incredible news but unfortunately it is only partly true,” suggested Moore. “Imagine being deaf and being told that in order to access subtitles you had to lose the High-Definition picture on your TV. Well, this is the situation for visually impaired viewers who have adopted the amazing sound quality provided by Dolby Atmos but are forced to choose between great audio or audio description.”

“While Dolby have embraced this and developed a way of overlaying the AD soundtrack onto an Atmos audio file, TV broadcasters, movie studios and BluRay manufacturers are slow to adopt this AC4 codec. With TV shows like Game of Thrones being broadcast in Atmos, along with many Netflix series and original movies, sports broadcasts and documentaries picking up the ultra real effects of Atmos sound, isn’t it something we, as people with sight loss, should be shouting about?”

“Don’t we deserve the best experience from our choice of viewing content too? We’re being offer a 2.1 soundtrack instead of Atmos’ 5.1.4 3D audio experience simply because we need the action described to us. If Sky would go that bit further and adopt the AC4 delivery of object based audio then next generation audio would indeed be truly accessible.”

“Accessible is great, exceptional is better!” concluded Moore.

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