Freeview has rolled out its Accessible TV Guide and is available at Channel 555 on selected devices. The aim is to make it simpler for those with accessibility needs, such as visual impairments and hearing loss, to find content using the service.
The new feature has been developed with insight from viewers, advocacy groups and accessibility research agencies, including the RNIB, Scope and the Digital Accessibility Centre, and is the first dedicated accessibility solution to launch on a UK TV platform.
Viewers who tune into Channel 555 will be asked for their preferred accessibility settings, whether that’s using the Text to Speech feature for navigation, only showing programmes with audio description, only showing programmes with subtitles or only showing programmes with sign language.
For viewers with visual impairments, the UI has been developed with high-contrast appearance (white text on black background), screen magnification and a text-to-speech functionality, and with the last feature you can determine how quickly the speech is delivered, too.
Once done, viewers can access a demo of how the guide works or start using it straight away. The actual guide will be a filtered version of the linear TV schedule, displaying content that relates to the viewer’s own accessibility criteria.
The Accessible TV Guide is available on select Freeview Play devices, and will be rolling out across the rest of Freeview Play devices in the coming months.
Gary Thomas at the Digital Accessibility Centre commented: “This is a market leading product. I know of no other TV platform with this level of accessibility options. Freeview’s Accessible TV Guide is a one stop shop, with the option to filter programmes by subtitles, audio description and sign language. It’s easy to follow, and its default text-to-speech feature is a welcome original feature to help blind and visually impaired users. As a blind user, the Accessible TV Guide will allow me to read, plan, and access programs independently which has not been possible for many years.”