Television, self-evidently, is a visual medium. That means it is largely off-limits to the 600,000 Australians - about 5 per cent of the population - who are blind or visually impaired. But that need not be the case.
Audio-description technology exists whereby a narrator on a separate audio track describes what is happening on screen during gaps in dialogue. It is used widely overseas and now a government-funded trial has made it available on some ABC shows until November 4.
The disability discrimination commissioner, Graeme Innes, is an advocate of the technology. He is blind and says that before the trial he simply didn't watch TV drama.
''You hear something like a gunshot or a breaking glass or a car driving away and you've got no sense of what's taking place without the audio description, so for me it really brings the television medium to life in a way that it never has before,'' he says.
''It's meant that I actually watch these programs and I just haven't in the past, not because I wouldn't like to - I love that sort of drama - but because I couldn't follow it.
''I've watched Rake and Jack Irish just in the past month or two - they're programs I would just never watch because I can't follow what's going on when there's no speech.
''The really graphic example for me was Jack Irish. His wife is shot by one of his clients. Now that occurs in the car park of their office, about five minutes into the program, and there's no words. And I would have had no idea what had happened and probably would have turned off the TV at that point had it not been for the audio description.''
During the trial period, which began in August, the ABC is airing 14 hours a week of audio-captioned material - a mix of local and overseas shows including Rake, Doctor Who and Grand Designs. The trial is limited to the ABC and unavailable to those who access the ABC through Foxtel. Innes obviously hopes to see audio captioning continue beyond November 4.
''I'd certainly like to see it continue at the level it is in this trial and ramped up from there. In the US and UK and New Zealand and Canada, there's much more than that being delivered now.''
Australian blindness and consumer organisations are urging consumers to lobby the ABC and federal government to make the trial permanent and Innes says ''hundreds, if not thousands'' of people have already done so.
So why are we so far behind other parts of the world when it comes to the technology? ''It's not a technical issue,'' Innes says. ''It's an issue of will and preparedness to make the service available.
''There's a degree of resistance but I don't think it comes from not recognising the benefits, but from sorting out the costs and priorities in the budget. I just think 600,000 Australians is something we should be committing to more than we do.''
With television networks under increasing financial pressure, some reluctance to invest in audio description technology is perhaps understandable. But those networks are competing for a finite audience in an increasingly fragmented landscape. Rather than worry about the cost of the service, maybe they should think about those 600,000 potential viewers.
For more information, see dbcde.gov.au/television/audio-description-trial.