Changes to electronic programme guides to benefit people with sight impairments

02 July 2018

People with sight impairments will be able to navigate TV channels more easily following changes to the rules for broadcasters’ on-screen TV guides, published by Ofcom.

These electronic programme guides, or EPGs, help people plan their viewing and discover new programmes. But people with visual impairments can find them difficult to use.

So, we have decided to change the EPG rules to help ensure some features are used in EPGs as standard:

  • Text to speech. Channel information, and the text necessary for navigation, are available as speech.
  • Filtering and highlighting. Programmes with audio description, and those with signing, are highlighted or listed separately.
  • Magnification. Viewers can magnify or enlarge information on the EPG.
  • High-contrast display. Viewers can switch between default and high-contrast displays.

The proposed changes will apply to EPGs made available after 27 July 2018.

EPG providers must submit an annual report to Ofcom on the accessibility of their programme guides, so we can monitor progress.

We continue to work closely with broadcasters, on-demand programme service providers and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) on other ways to increase television accessibility for people with sight impairment.

This year, we are supporting the RNIB and broadcasters in an industry campaign to increase public awareness of audio description – a commentary service that describes what is happening on screen. Broadcasters including the BBC, BT, Channel 4, ITV, Sky, UKTV and Viacom will be showing adverts to promote their audio description services throughout the summer and early autumn.