Freeview rolls out Accessible TV guide

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Digital TV network Freeview has launched an Accessible TV Guide, now available at Channel 555 of supported Freeview Play devices.

Freeview’s Accessible TV Guide will make it simpler for viewers with accessibility needs, such as visual impairments or hearing loss, to discover and find content more easily.

Developed with insight from viewers, advocacy groups, and accessibility research agencies, including the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Scope and the Digital Accessibility Centre, the Accessible TV Guide won Gold at this year’s Connected TV Awards for ‘Advancing the User Experience’.

The first dedicated accessibility solution to launch on a UK TV platform, the guide can be found via Channel 555 on Freeview Play TVs. The digital TV network claims the user journey has been designed to be simple to navigate for viewers with visual impairments, with a high contrast UI, screen magnification, and a text-to-speech functionality.

Upon selecting Channel 555 on a supported device, viewers will be asked for their preferred accessibility settings from the below options – 

  • Use Text to Speech for on screen navigation 
  • Show only programmes with audio description 
  • Show only programmes with subtitles 
  • Show only programmes with sign language 

Following this, viewers can choose to watch a demo of how the guide works or head straight to the guide. The guide will launch a filtered version of the linear TV schedule showing the content coming up that fits the viewer’s own accessibility criteria. From here viewers can browse the available content and select what they want to watch.

Available on Freeview Play devices including models from Panasonic, LG and Toshiba, viewers with supported devices may need to retune their TVs to start receiving the Accessible TV Guide.  The full list of supported Freeview Play devices is available at https://www.freeview.co.uk/help/accessible-tv-guide.

Says Gary Thomas, Low Vision Team Leader at the Digital Accessibility Centre:

“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 programmes independently which has not been possible for many years.”

Adds  Simon Hunt, Director of Strategy and Business Development for Freeview Play:

“Great content has the power to bring us all together. However, underpinning this is the ease in which we can all find what to watch and discover new shows. The new Accessible TV Guide will help millions of viewers with visual impairments, hearing loss and other accessibility needs to get so much more out of their TVs, and we are so pleased to be starting the roll out across Freeview Play.”

Watched in over 17 million homes, Freeview is the UK’s biggest TV platform. Its connected TV service, Freeview Play, brings together live and on-demand content from BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, All 4, My5, UKTV Play, CBS Catchup Channels UK, Horror Bites, STV Player, and BBC Sounds. 

Chris Price
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