Friday, 5 June 2009




TV Access Services

With so many TV channels now available in the UK, it's important that everyone can enjoy the full range of programming on offer.

An Ofcom code - published in 2004 - requires most channels with an audience share of 0.05% to provide subtitling, signing and audio description (television access services) for a growing proportion of their programmes.

Subtitles are provided for deaf and hard of hearing people on at least 80% of programmes on the five main terrestrial channels, with the BBC subtitling 100% of its shows.

Today we are publishing our mid-year review of television access services which states that 72 channels will be required to provide television access services in 2010 including, for the first time, Sky Movies Screen 1, Sky Movies Screen 2, FX and Watch.

Audio description

Audio description (AD) is an additional narration that is inserted between dialogue on some TV programmes on more than 60 channels.

AD describes on-screen action, body language and facial expressions to aid the understanding of visually impaired viewers.

Our guide to audio description services will tell you more about this feature and how to get AD on your TV.

Some sign interpreted programming (where a signer is featured in the corner of the screen) is also available on the five terrestrial channels and some digital TV services.


From the start of 2009 the signing obligations for smaller channels changed.

After research revealed that sign interpreted programming on small channels was not benefiting BSL users, Ofcom altered the regulations to require smaller broadcasters to either provide a minimum of 30 minutes of sign-presented programming each month or propose alternative arrangements to make more sign presented programming available to deaf or hearing impaired sign language users.

As a result, over 60 channels came together to fund the British Sign Language Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT) which commissions sign presented programmes to be broadcast on the Community channel's new Sign Zone, which is broadcast 3 days week. You can read more about these changes, and how to find the Sign Zone here.
Full report;

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