Insights Ofcom publishes annual report on accessibility of electronic programme guides (EPGs)

Ofcom says that on-screen TV Guides help people plan their viewing and discover new programmes. However, people with visual impairments can find EPGs difficult or impossible to use, meaning their viewing choices are unnecessarily restricted, and they could miss out on finding programmes.

To help people with sight impairments navigate between TV channels more easily Ofcom introduced changes to its EPG Code so that certain features are incorporated as standard:

  • text to speech: channel information, and the text necessary for navigation, are available as speech;
  • filtering and highlighting: programmes with audio description, and those with signing, are highlighted or listed separately;
  • magnification: users can magnify or enlarge EPG information; and
  • high-contrast display: users can switch between the default and high-contrast display.

Ofcom’s new annual report shows the progress made by each EPG provider in implementing these features. It finds that although the COVID-19 pandemic has affected product development, some providers have made good progress in making their services more accessible. Others, however, still have further to go.

Digital UK has developed an innovative solution using an EPG accessed via a separate channel. Sky has recently introduced text to-speech on all Sky Q set-top box models, as well as high contrast displays. Virgin Media, however, is still waiting to introduce most of the features in its next-generation platform.

Ofcom says that it now expects EPG providers who have not implemented the required features to have clear plans in place to do so, and it has communicated its expectations regarding the progress it expects to see in advance of next year’s report. To access the report, click here.