Insights Ofcom publishes report on accessibility of broadcast and on-demand programme services


The report sets out the proportion of traditional broadcast and on-demand services with subtitles, audio description or signing, allowing for industry and consumers to measure progress and draw comparisons.

Ofcom recognises that the Coronavirus pandemic has presented challenges for broadcasters and on-demand providers in delivering access services. Nevertheless, in 2020 traditional broadcasters continued to meet or exceed their subtitling, audio description and signing requirements.

A greater proportion of on-demand providers offered subtitles in 2020 (63.8% up from 58.1% in 2019), but fewer offered audio description (16.7% down from 17.4%) and signing (11.4% down from 12.8%).

Among on-demand services that provided access services, there were small increases in the proportion of content made accessible: 58.1% of programming hours were subtitled in 2020 (up from 51.2% in 2019), 14.2% were audio described (up from 9.7%) and 2.4% were signed (up from 1.5%).

There is currently no legal requirement on providers of on-demand programming services to make their content accessible to people with hearing or visual impairments. This differs from broadcast television services, where broadcasters must achieve specific accessibility targets. The Digital Economy Act 2017, however, paved the way for on-demand accessibility requirements, and Ofcom has set out its initial recommendations to Government to inform its draft Regulations. Following a second consultation, Ofcom will be making further recommendations to Government in the coming weeks. To access the report, click here. To access Ofcom’s initial recommendations to Government, click here.