1.1 In July 2004, Ofcom published its Code on Television Access Services, extending to some 70 channels obligations to provide subtitles, signing and audio description (Television access services) on a gradually increasing proportion of their programmes (-1-).
1.2 In 2006, Ofcom undertook the Access Service Review, which revealed a significant lack of awareness of audio description, both among the general UK population and the visually impaired community. Fewer than 40% of UK adults and 37% of the visually impaired community were aware of audio description services, compared with awareness levels of 90% for subtitling and 86% for signing services. The Review concluded audio description awareness levels needed to increase in order to confer the maximum benefit of this service to the visually impaired community (-2-).
1.3 The Access Services Code places an obligation on broadcasters to “demonstrate they are taking effective steps to publicise awareness of their television access services through other means, [other than through the electronic programming guide] including periodic on-air announcements and information in publications aimed at persons likely to benefit” (-3-).
1.4 To this end, Ofcom facilitated a substantial communications campaign involving 16 broadcasters and the RNIB, aimed at raising awareness of audio description services. The Audio Description Awareness Campaign consisted of promotional trails broadcast across the schedules of more than 70 channels over a 6 week period during February/March 2008, and was supported by a range of off-screen activity including continuity announcements and BBC local radio trails. The RNIB provided additional support for the campaign through press and radio advertisements, radio and print features, digital forums and direct mail.
1.5 Ofcom commissioned GfK NOP Media to conduct bespoke quantitative research to assess the impact of the broadcasters’ campaign. The primary objective of the research was to test audio description awareness levels within both the UK population as a whole and more specifically the visually impaired community. Research was conducted before and after the campaign, to measure how successful the initiative had been in raising awareness.
1.6 The research was also designed to:
This report details in full the findings of the research project.
1.- Code on Television Access Services. See Code on Television Access Services
2.- Television Access Services Review Statement. See Television Access Services Review Statement
3.- Code on Television Access Services, paragraph 33. See Code on Television Access Services
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