Ofcom publishes further consultation on making on-demand services accessible

Ofcom has announced a further consultation on making on-demand services accessible to people with hearing and sight impairments.

On-demand services are increasingly popular, but they often do not provide features such as subtitles, audio description and signing, known as “access services”. In 2018, Ofcom made recommendations to the Government on new accessibility rules for on-demand services to bring them in line with those for broadcast television. Ofcom recommends that on-demand services should provide subtitling on 80% of their programmes, audio description on 10% and signing on 5% within four years of the rules coming in.

Following a request from Government, the further consultation looks in more detail at how the proposed rules should work in practice. Specifically, it sets out proposals for the circumstances that would exempt providers from meeting any new requirements or allow them to meet them partially; for example, due to affordability, low audience share or technical difficulties. It also sets out further proposals on the signing requirements.

Ofcom is seeking views from affected or interested parties on these proposals by 5:00pm on 16 September 2020.

Separately, Ofcom has published a list of television channels that are required to provide access services in 2021. Ninety domestic channels and 18 non-domestic channels will be required to provide subtitling, audio-description and signing on a proportion of their programmes. To access the consultation, click here. To access the list of TV channels, click here.