New Accessible TV Guide rolls out on Freeview Play at Channel 555

Choosing which TV to choose can be bewildering and, when you get it home, its functions can be even more so. Factor in a disability and the need for a really accessible, inclusive experience and it becomes clear that there’s a real need for a really simple solution – even if it’s just for watching the everyday live television programmes that you love.

One channel number – that’s all you need to know

Freeview today announces the first roll out of its award-winning Accessible TV Guide, available at Channel 555 on supported Freeview Play devices.

Freeview Play logo

Freeview’s Accessible TV Guide will make it simpler for viewers with accessibility needs, such as visual impairments or hearing loss, to discover and find content more easily. 

Developed with insight from viewers, advocacy groups, and accessibility research agencies, including AbilityNet (me, actually), the RNIB, Scope and the Digital Accessibility Centre, the Accessible TV Guide won Gold at this year’s Connected TV Awards for ‘Advancing the User Experience’. 

The first dedicated accessibility solution to launch on a UK TV platform, the guide is easy to find via Channel 555 on supported Freeview Play TVs and offers viewers a seamless experience which is uniform across devices and works straight out of the box. 

Let’s see it in action

Here’s a short (3min) video of how it works:

The user journey has been designed to be simple to navigate for viewers with visual impairments, with a high contrast UI, screen magnification, and a text-to-speech functionality.

Gary Thomas at the Digital Accessibility Centre commented “This is a market leading product. I know of no other TV platform with this level of accessibility options. Freeview’s Accessible TV Guide is a one stop shop, with the option to filter programmes by subtitles, audio description and sign language. It’s easy to follow, and its default text-to-speech feature is a welcome original feature to help blind and visually impaired users.

As a blind user, the Accessible TV Guide will allow me to read, plan, and access programs independently which has not been possible for many years.”

Putting accessibility on show

Upon selecting Channel 555, viewers will be asked for their preferred accessibility settings from the below options:

  • Use Text to Speech for on screen navigation 
  • Show only programmes with audio description 
  • Show only programmes with subtitles 
  • Show only programmes with sign language 

Following this, viewers can choose to watch a demo of how the guide works or head straight to the guide. The guide will launch a filtered version of the linear TV schedule showing the content coming up that fits the viewer’s own accessibility criteria. From here viewers can browse the available content and select what they want to watch. 

More inclusion to come

Simon Hunt, Director of Strategy and Business Development for Freeview Play, comments; “Great content has the power to bring us all together. However, underpinning this is the ease in which we can all find what to watch and discover new shows. The new Accessible TV Guide will help millions of viewers with visual impairments, hearing loss and other accessibility needs to get so much more out of their TVs, and we are so pleased to be starting the roll out across Freeview Play.”

Available on selected Freeview Play devices now, the Accessible TV Guide will be rolling out across the full range of Freeview Play devices over the coming months. Viewers with supported devices may need to retune their TVs to start receiving the Accessible TV Guide. The full list of supported Freeview Play devices is available on the Freeview website.

Alongside this, more features are set to launch on the Guide next year, including the integration of Freeview Play’s on demand content recommendations, which will be filtered according to each viewer’s accessibility needs. 

I very much look forward to being part of those providing input into such a valuable service as new accessibility features evolve.

Further resources