UK regulator Ofcom has announced changes to its Access Services Code and Best Practice Guidelines to improve the accessibility of TV and on-demand programmes for audiences.

Access services include subtitles, signing and audio description to help people with access needs, including blind and d/Deaf people and those with sight and hearing loss.


Ofcom ha announced changes to accessibility guidelines for TV and On-Demand services

Broadcasters must, by law, provide access services on a certain proportion of their programming. Ofcom’s Access Services Code explains what they must do, while its Best Practice Guidelines gives advice on how they can ensure they are of a high quality and easy to use.

To inform its review of the Code and associated Guidelines, Ofcom conducted a public consultation and commissioned new research revealing a need for more choice and options for customisation across all participants.

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For on-demand and catch-up services, users of access services want, among other things, greater consistency in the layout of user interfaces and in finding accessible content.

The clarifications to the Access Services Code mean that broadcasters must now 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.

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Ofcom is also expanding its best practice guidelines to include, for the first time, video-on-demand providers such as ITVX and Channel 4, and subscription services like Now and Amazon Prime Video.

It is strengthening its guidance by offering additional advice on areas including: serving people with cognitive and neurodevelopmental conditions; key outcomes for audiences in relation to subtitling, audio-description and signing; customisation options and choice for viewers; and alternative means of making programmes accessible (for example, improving dialogue audibility for people with hearing loss).

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