Ofcom reports on accessibility of UK electronic program guides

Thursday, 8 April 2010 10:33am

Ofcom, the UK communications regulator, has published a report detailing the access features available on electronic program guides (EPGs) for subscription and free-to-air television services, and plans for improvements.

Overall, the subscription services, and particularly Sky, are leading the way in making it easy for viewers to identify programs which have captions or audio description (AD) and switch these features on. On the Sky EPG, for example, programs with captions or AD are in different colours, and the services are activated by pushing the ‘Help’ button on the remote. In addition to this, Sky viewers who are flicking through channels will hear a ‘beep’ when they come to a program with AD, and there is a dedicated channel which gives a spoken list of all channels.

The report found that, with both subscription and free-to-air services, it is generally easy to switch on captions and AD via the remote.

The report also indicates future directions for accessible EPGs. Several EPG providers are looking at launching a ‘text-to-speech’ feature which would convert the information contained in them into automated speech. Rovi, a company which specialises in media management services, is also investigating a feature which would magnify the text on EPGs to make them more readable for a vision impaired person.

For more details, see the Ofcom website.  


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