Report on the accessibility of Electronic Program Guides

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Tuesday, 9 April 2013 11:23am

Media Access Australia has released a report on electronic program guides (EPGs) and how television networks and content providers display access information such as closed captions (CC) or audio description (AD). The report has found there is inconsistency amongst broadcasters and content providers when it comes to displaying this information on electronic formats.

Report author Clarizza Fernandez said, "Australia is lagging behind its international counterparts like the UK and the US where there are clear guidelines for displaying 'CC' or 'AD' on EPGs.

"For the Deaf and hearing impaired, the blind and vision impaired, access information is essential and they should not be left out."

EPGs display broadcast and scheduling information and in some instances, indicate whether a TV show is closed captioned or audio described. The report reviews the EPGs of free-to-air broadcasters, subscription TV broadcasters and independent EPG providers.

The EPGs reviewed include:

  • EPGs accessed through a digital-enabled TV (including through personal video recorder or set-top box).
  • Online EPGs found on the broadcaster’s or independent provider's website.

The report reviews how ‘CC’ and ‘AD’ is displayed but also reviews the accessibility of the EPGs themselves using the NVDA screen reader. This was done in order to see how easily a blind or vision impaired person could access EPGs online. Accessibility was assessed against the ability to access essential program information. This is relevant to how a blind or vision impaired person may access TV program information online.

The report was completed as a follow up to the recommendations made by the Media Access Review final report, released in 2010 by the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. The report called on Free TV Australia to address EPG accessibility to bring Australia up to international standards (recommendation 13).  The Review also requested that the Australian Communications and Media Authority consider including accessibility in its requirements for EPGs or develop a specific code of practice for EPGs by 2012 (recommendation 14).

As the report highlights, there still remain a lack of guidelines or standards that address the issue of displaying access information.

Download the Electronic Program Guides and Accessibility Report [doc 377KB]

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