Ofcom publishes update on accessibility of electronic programme guides

20 May 2021

We have today published our annual report on the accessibility of electronic programme guides (EPGs).

EPGs are on-screen TV guides that help people to plan their viewing and discover new programmes. However, people with visual impairments can find them difficult or impossible to use, meaning their viewing choices are unnecessarily restricted, and they could miss out on finding programmes.

To help people with sight impairments navigate between TV channels more easily we introduced changes to our EPG code so certain features are incorporated 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 – users can magnify or enlarge EPG information.
  • High-contrast display – users can switch between the default and high-contrast display.

What we found

Today’s report shows the progress made by each EPG provider in implementing these features.

We found that although the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic has affected product development, some providers have made good progress in making their services more accessible. Others, however, still have further to go.

Digital UK has developed a solution using an EPG accessed via a separate channel. Sky has recently introduced text-to-speech on all Sky Q set-top box models, as well as high contrast displays. Virgin Media, however, is still waiting to introduce most of the features in its next generation platform.

We now expect EPG providers who have not implemented the required features to have clear plans in place to do so. We have also set out our expectations regarding the progress we expect to see ahead of of next year’s report.

table showing programme guide accessibility features by provider.