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Information from Radio 4 In Touch Factsheet 12th October 2004

See the BBC Ouch! guide to Audio Description for a fuller guide to Audio Description in Cinemas, Theatre etc

The BBC, Channel 4 and ITV announced today that Audio Description – a service which enables viewers with sight problems to follow television programmes without having to guess or ask someone what's happening on screen - is now available via digital satellite television (Sky), as well as on Freeview. Following an announcement in June that the service was to be offered, the three parties have now successfully trialled Audio Description on digital satellite, and it is now available to all digital satellite viewers of our services.

Audio Description, or AD, provides spoken details of key visual elements - such as change of location, actions, facial expressions, gestures, even the clothes people are wearing - giving blind people the context and helping them set the scene and follow the action. The AD is fitted in between existing dialogue and commentary without interrupting the flow of the programme.

The BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five are committed to audio describing at least 6 per cent of their output in 2005.

Programmes described include the most popular soaps like Eastenders, Coronation Street and Emmerdale, dramas such as Ny-Lon, Holby City, Nip/Tuck and The Streets of San Francisco, and comedies like Friends and Sex and the City. Children’s programming like Blue Peter, The Hoobs and Fimbles feature this service also.

The BBC’s Audio Description service will be accessible via BBC ONE London (Channel 944 for viewers outside the region), BBC Two England (Channel 959 for viewers outside the region), BBC Three, BBC Four, CBeebies and CBBC.

ITV’s service can be found by selecting 963 (tbc), and Channel Four’s service is on 964 (tbc). Five’s service is already available on 105.

Information about Audio Description on digital is available to the public from:

Tel: 08700 10 10 10

Tel: 020 7306 8333

Tel: 0870 600 6766

Tel: 08705 66 33 33
Textphone: 08702 40 19 10

There are around 2 million people in the UK whose sight problems cannot be corrected by wearing glasses. 94 per cent of these people regularly watch television

To obtain Audio Description and/or Subtitles free of charge on digital satellite all you have to do is:

• Select 'Services' on your remote
• Select no 4 - System Setup
• Select no 3 - Languages & Subtitles
• Then for Audio Description set Favourite Language / Audio to 'Narrative'
• Arrow key down and 'Save New Settings'

Once you have saved the new settings you can press the 'Sky' button to return you to your programme.

For the service to be received on digital terrestrial (Freeview), with the advantage of adjustable volume of the narration, a special box is required, available from Netgem. This box also provides a speaking EPG to aid people with sight problems in locating programmes with AD.

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