Audio description (AD)

If you're struggling to see your favourite television programmes or movies, then Audio Description (AD) may be for you.

Man listening to headphone on sofa with headphones on and looking at tablet

AD is commentary that describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound.

Audio Descriptions on TV

To get audio described TV programmes, you will need digital television. You get digital TV via Freeview, satellite or cable. This is either built into your television or it is a set top box connected to your television.

Broadcasters (like the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky) must add AD to 20 per cent of their programmes. AD is also available in Welsh on selected programmes.

Download our factsheets to find out more about audio description for Freeview, satellite and cable television.

Find out more information in our Television section.

Audio Description in cinemas

Many cinemas are equipped with a system that delivers audio description (AD) through a headset, which is provided when you collect your ticket. The audio description runs each time the film is shown and is undetectable to anyone not wearing a headset.

Audio description online

BBC iPlayer, the web based TV catch up service, offers audio description. Select programmes from the list of the audio described programmes available.

Audio description is available on selected programmes on 4oD, the video on demand service from Channel 4. Users looking for audio described content will be directed to a new section called "audio described shows" from the 4oD homepage. Initially, only selected programmes will be available with AD but the amount of content will grow over time. Any viewer enquiries or feedback should be directed to the usual Channel 4 viewers contact site or they can be contacted on 0845 076 0191.

Watch our video on how TV catch-up and on-demand services can be made more usable for people with sight loss.

Audio description at sports venues

Blind and partially sighted spectators at the famous home of cricket, Lord’s Cricket Ground, are able to follow every ball bowled and every boundary scored through the dedicated ‘Ball by Ball’ commentary service at the ground. Lord's provides commentary on every international match, Middlesex county games, and the majority of minor fixtures at the ground.

Commentary is provided at many of the professional football league clubs as well as some non-league clubs, as well as rugby league and rugby union clubs. Information regarding facilities provided at each club, for home and away fans, is available from Level Playing Field.

RNIB, through our Soccer Sight project, was instrumental in helping to set up many football clubs with an audio described commentary service. If you are a stadium manager hoping to make your venue more accessible to blind and partially sighted people then you might find our Soccer Sight Guide useful to read:

Access Audio has designed equipment specifically for the purpose of broadcasting description to blind and partially sighted people attending public events. The RAD system offers a superb level of reception utilising radio signals.

Contact Access Audio by emailing or calling 0131 663 0777.

Useful resources

Please visit our useful resources page for other factsheets and helpful links.