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    The Premier AT Conference

37th Annual CSUN Assistive Technology Conference Has Concluded

How Accessible is TV for People with Sight Loss?

Date & Time
Wednesday, March 16, 2022 - 4:20 PM PST  
Elite 1-3  
The presentation will cover findings from the TV Accessibility Research being undertaken at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). The research explores the accessibility of programs across different genres on UK television. The main questions for this research are: 1. How much content on UK Television is audio described? 2. How much content is accessible without audio description (AD)? 3. How much content would benefit from AD? 4. Why can't more content be audio described? What are the main barriers to making a program accessible with AD (e.g., technical barriers such as live broadcasts or editorial barriers such as the lack of space for AD)? 5. Which genres top the list of inaccessible content and need urgent attention? (e.g., educational, factual and within factual, looking at niche areas like auto, music, travel, nature, art, etc.) 6. Besides AD, what are the other ways for making programs accessible? Could some of the programs be made accessible by integrating information that would normally be included in the AD track in the main voiceover of the program? Could enhanced audio be used to improve the experience for blind and partially sighted viewers? With AD now firmly embedded in the broadcast streams across many countries and also in video-on-demand services, particularly global services such as Prime Video, Apple+, Disney Plus, and Netflix, and a growing number of calls on TV to be more accessible for people with sight loss, it is vital to investigate alternative ways in which programs that have so far remained inaccessible can be made accessible. This includes integrating accessibility into the program's structure, using enhanced audio, or shifting the accessible formats to online platforms that allow the media to be manipulated to fit in the multiple audio tracks. It is also clear that there is a need for better understanding and awareness of AD and how the accessibility requirements of blind and partially blind viewers can be met by the program makers, including the scriptwriters, producers, and directors. This could help address some of the barriers. (e.g., in some cases, the entire programs are fully accessible except for one small element, such as the lack of voiceover on a series of graphics that appear at the end of the program, which renders the program inaccessible. These graphics may reveal the outcome of an investigation or a discussion within the program, so they are crucial to the storyline.  
  • Disability Specific
  • Government
  • Entertainment & Recreation
  • Media & Publishing
  • Research & Development
Audience Level
Session Summary (Abstract)
With audio description firmly embedded in the broadcast streams, it is now time to investigate alternative ways in which programs that have remained inaccessible can be made accessible. The presenters will share findings on the programs from various genres including children’s content, documentaries, science, nature, and travel shows.  
Session Type
General Track  
  • Blind/Low Vision
  • Independent Living
  • Leisure & Travel
  • Research


  • Sonali Rai
    Royal National Institute of Blind People
  • Alison Long
    Royal National Institute of Blind People

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