NEWS14 July 2023

Ofcom opens consultation on accessibility services

Inclusion Media News Public Sector UK

UK – Television regulator Ofcom is consulting on strengthening access to services such as subtitles and audio description, including expanding requirements to video-on-demand and streaming platforms.


The changes to the Access Services Code include making clear to broadcasters that access services, including signing, subtitles and audio description, must be of a good enough quality to count towards the targets that broadcasters must meet.

Broadcasters must, by law, provide access services on a certain amount of their programming.

The changes to the code will aim to make sure that when something goes wrong with access services, broadcasters must make every effort to tell their viewers what is going on and keep them up to date.

Ofcom is also proposing to expand its best practice guidance to include, for the first time, video-on-demand providers such as ITV X and Channel 4, and subscription services like Now and Amazon Prime Video.

Other additions to the code proposed include serving people with cognitive and neurodevelopmental disabilities; alternative means of making programmes accessible, such as improving dialogue audibility for people with hearing loss; and customisation, options and choice for viewers.

Ofcom has also published an update on improvements to the accessibility of electronic programme guides (EPGs).

EPGs are on-screen menus that tell people what TV programmes are available to help them plan their viewing, but people with hearing and visual impairments can often experience particular difficulties when using them.

Ofcom found that, in the last year, most providers have improved or extended the availability of accessibility features set out in the EPG Code, such as text-to-speech, highlighting or filtering, magnification and high-contrast displays.