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Access Services

Broadcasters have obligations under the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 to make reasonable adjustments in the delivery of services so as to make these accessible to disabled people. One way in which they do this is to provide a range of so-called ‘access services’ to assist people with sensory impairments to enjoy television programmes. Subtitles are provided for deaf and hard of hearing people on all 5 main channels (BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel Four/S4C and five) on analogue and digital TV, as well as on over 60 other channels on digital TV. There is also some provision of signed programming for British Sign Language users on analogue and digital TV, and audio described programmes for blind and partially sighted people are provided on digital TV only. Programmes carrying access services are identified in printed and electronic programme guides with the abbreviations - S (subtitling), SL (signing) and AD (audio description).

UK regulator Ofcom has produced a Code on Television Access Services which sets outs the requirements on subtitling, sign language and audio description that apply to television services licensed in the UK, including satellite, cable and terrestrial. Broadcasters are obliged to meet minimum targets for the percentages of their programmes that carry the different access services, the aim being that by 2013 80% of most services will carry subtitles, 5% will carry sign-language programming, and 10% will carry audio descriptions.

 

 



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