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May 9, 2022
Ofcom notes that people with visual impairments are confronted with particular difficulties when using EPGs, meaning their viewing choices are unnecessarily restricted, and they could miss out on finding programmes. To help people with sight impairments, Ofcom’s EPG Code expects the following features to be 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.
As part of its work to understand how these features are working for consumers in practice, Ofcom worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People to establish a focus group to hear from users directly.
The annual report finds that more EPGs are accessible, but some are falling behind in filtering accessible content and text to speech functionality. In summary:
- all providers now offer high contrast displays;
- highlighting of accessible content is also widely available, but remains to be applied by YouView;
- only Digital UK, which runs Freeview, provides filtering for broadcast content, a feature which is highly valued by users with sight impairments seeking audio-described programmes; and
- only Sky and Digital UK offer text-to-speech functionality, otherwise known as “speaking EPGs”.
Ofcom says that it expects those providers lagging behind to go much further, both in terms of the accessible functionality they offer, but also with regard to the evidence they provide in reporting progress against their obligations. To access the EPG Accessibility Report 2022 in full, click here.