Accessible Digital Television and Access services

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Television provides an efficient way of gaining access to information and entertainment. Television is also important for enhancing national identity and can be critical in times of emergencies. As an almost universally used technology, TV should be accessible to everyone to avoid discrimination and exclusion. Different accessibility options that enable users to fully access audiovisual content have been in use for a number of years. Traditionally, the most common access services for television have been subtitling, visual signing and audio description.The switch over from analogue to Digital broadcasting brings along a pallet of new opportunities and challenges to provide enhanced access to television.

"Access service" or "Accessibility service" is a generic term used to refer to a service (e.g. captioning, audio description etc.) that improves the accessibility of a television programme for which it was made. Broadly speaking we can make a distinction between two kinds of access-services depending on whether they are visible to all-viewers (open) or are optional (closed).

Find out more about general information on Accessible Digital Television (DTV) by topic:

  • The case for accessible DTV: Who benefits from accessible television and who is at risk of exclusion if television programmes are not accessible
  • Standards and guidelines for accessible DTV: International and National Standards and Guidelines have been produced to ensure broader accessibility of Digital Television. Standards and guidelines are available for broadcasters, TV Producers and content providers as well as for EC Manufacturers.
  • Legislation for accessible DTV: International and National Legislation makes provision for accessible Audio-Visual Media and Television. Find out more about the legislation framework in Europe and per country.
  • Funding access services: this page discusses existing business models for television access service provision.
  • Blogs, research projects and resources on accessible DTV

Find out more about specific access services and specific existing solutions to improve DTV accessibility:

  • The importance of making accessible television programmes: this page discusses usability issues in presenting and designing the content of a programme.
  • Accessible hardware and accessible remote controls: this page presents resources on accessible hardware and remote controls.
  • Subtitling and captioning: subtitles are onscreen text that renders dialogue and additional audio elements. This page presents resources on both live and pre-recorded subtitling.
  • Visual signing: This page provides information on sign-language on television.
  • Audio description: Audio descriptions are an additional narrative which describes significant onscreen actions to people who can not see. This page presents information on how to produce audio-descrition as well as on standards and legislation.
  • Clean Audio: Clean Audio or "dialogue enhancement" is a technique that takes advantage of the increased adoption of multichannel audio and enables the user to decide of the balance between dialogue and ambient sound. This page presents resources addressing this relatively new concept.
  • Spoken Subtitles: Spoken subtitling is a technique that consists in the reading of interlingual subtitles in a spoken voice for viewers with vision or reading impairments. This page presents resources on the provision of spoken subtitling.
  • Text-to-speech technologies: This page highlights how text-to-speech technologies can improve accessibility of Television for blind users and users with visual impairment.
  • Digital television as an enabling platform: this page presents examples where interactive television acts as an enabling platform for inclusion through its interactive functionalities.