TV and the Visually Impaired

Disability has been for years a subject of attention for Rai.
Dott. Carlo Romeo, Director of Rai's Social Secretariat, tells of the organization's commitment and difficulties.

Federico Bartolomei

What is done to make television programs more accessible to persons who are blind or visually impaired?

The new service contract in art. 7 is innovative, and it encourages the public service in its commitment towards persons with sensory disabilities. Besides the basic declarations of principle, we have raised by 10% the percentage of TV programs annually offered to this clientele. And we will respect this. This means we will increase the number of programs with subtitles and with sign language for the deaf, and audiovision in TV programs for the blind. More details on the initiatives may be found on the web site of Rai's Social Secretariat:

Will there be in the future other similar actions in this regard?

Let's say first that Rai has experienced and still is experiencing difficult times, as everyone knows. It is required of us to be present on the market, to keep up audience ratings, to experience new things and provide a public service, to add value to the other services offered, besides television, that is radio, Televideo, Rainet, etc. These are all valuable requests, but they do require time and adequate planning. That being said, following the service order of last October, this year Rai has, for the first time, provided tools for a complete and adequate social communication within the organization.This naturally involves keeping a close look on the world of disabilities through, no programs in particular, but background knowledge, and a public service adequate to the times we are living in.

Television plays an important role in creating awareness relating to visual impairment, in this sense, what place does the issue of visual disability have in the palimpsest?

I don't think it's a matter of place, it's rather a necessity to develop a culture in which differences are considered as a precious collective enrichment. American cinema always succeeds in doing this and with superb results. We can do it as well if we succeed in leaving behind this logic, I would call of ownership, in which the problem is to fill in space. In other words, the problem is not to talk about disability to persons with disabilities but to get out of set patterns. The presence of a non-sighted person in a so-called normal program helps a lot more than 100,000 special programs broadcasted at two in the morning. I would like to recall that American TV has taught us that integration is part of everything that is offered, and firstly, I believe, in fiction more than through information, and that is the avenue we are working hard to take.

Is it planned to have a program focused on the world of disability?

It's in discussion to have a thematic channel clearly dedicated to social aspects; it could be a precious place to have quality products for general networks. I know that Carlo Sartori and Raisat are particularly sensitive to these issues, but we are still at the beginning of the path we have chosen to take, and it will be a long way. To find efficient and new modes of communication on issues such as these means a lot and requires time. It requires patience and humility. Results will come as came the new service contract which, I repeat, is considered in all Europe as innovative, for social issues.

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