EU Legislation on on subtitling

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The Audiovisual Media Service Directive

The current European policy on digital televisions is covered by the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) (external)

The Directive explicitly covers accessibility and the new rules set out in the AVMSD aim to make audiovisual content increasingly accessible for the sight- and/or hearing impaired. Governments must encourage media companies under their jurisdiction to do this, e.g. by subtitling and audio description.

  • Article 7.3.c. of this Directive stipulates that:

"Member States shall encourage media service providers under their jurisdiction to ensure that their services are gradually made accessible to people with a visual or hearing disability."

  • Article 64 of the Directive also states that:

"The right of persons with a disability and of the elderly to participate and be integrated in the social and cultural life of the Community is inextricably linked to the provision of accessible audiovisual media services. The means to achieve accessibility should include, but need not be limited to, sign language, subtitling, audio- description and easily understandable menu navigation."

More details on the AVMS Directive (external)

European Federation of Hard of Hearing People Report

The European Federation of hard of hearing people (EFHOH) (external) has published a report on the state of subtitling access in Europe (external) which looks at levels of captioning on audiovisual media across the European Union.