Electronic Programme Guide (EPG) Accessibility Report 2022
People with visual impairments watch as much TV as others but are confronted with particular difficulties when using TV programme guides (known as electronic programme guides or ‘EPGs’) to find and view programmes.
The EPG Code (PDF, 168.6 KB) sets out Ofcom’s expectation that EPGs should feature magnification, high contrast displays, filtering or highlighting of accessible programmes, and ‘text to speech’ functionality so that they can be used by disabled people.
This is our fourth annual report since amendments to the EPG Code in 2018. We have previously acknowledged that it takes time to implement the changes required. However, we now expect EPG providers either to have implemented the required features or to have clear plans in place to do so, where practicable.
We are grateful to RNIB for establishing a focus group this year which allowed us to engage with users of these features and better understand how they are working for consumers in practice, across a range of devices used to access the EPG (e.g. connected TVs or set-top boxes).
Summary of progress
- All providers now offer high contrast displays. Highlighting of accessible content is widely available but remains to be applied by YouView.
- Only Digital UK provides filtering for broadcast content, a feature which is highly valued by users with sight impairment seeking audio-described programmes.
- There has been some progress on implementing text to speech (‘TTS’) functionality, otherwise known as ‘speaking EPGs’. Sky now provides TTS across all Sky Q boxes, and Digital UK offers an innovative solution using a separate EPG accessed via Channel 555 on nearly all Freeview Play devices. Other providers use the separate functionality of mobile operating systems, some smart TVs (Freesat) or integration with digital assistants such as Amazon Alexa (YouView), which do not yet offer functionality equivalent to TTS.
EPG providers should:
- include more detailed evidence in their reporting on how they have made ‘reasonable endeavours’ to put into operation the required accessibility features
- focus on implementing filtering and TTS functionality
- engage with user groups
- continue to ask EPG providers voluntarily to provide information about additional measures they have taken to improve ease of access across their user interface
- instigate roundtable discussion to promote collaboration and best practice sharing both between EPG providers and between them and their manufacturing partners.