If you are finding it hard to see your television and enjoy your favourite programmes then we have information to help.

Audio Description on TV

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

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

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.

Accessible TV devices

Panasonic television with Voice Guidance

With advice from RNIB experts, Panasonic have launched the world's first range of digital talking televisions. The built-in Voice Guidance works by announcing on-screen information and the most important menus. As you become more familiar with your TV you can change the level of Voice Guidance from beginner to expert if you want fewer instructions.

Apple TV

Apple TV was launched with a feature called 'Voiceover' which is a screen reading technology and helps people with sight loss to find out what's happening on the screen without having to ask a sighted friend for assistance.

Sky Talker

As the name suggests, Sky Talker is exclusively for people currently using Sky service. Sky Talker speaks some of the text which appears as part of the electronic programme guide (EPG).

TV listings

Sourcing accessible TV guides and especially those highlighting audio described TV programmes can be difficult. There are web based, large print, audio and Braille TV guides available.

These television devices can help you enjoy your TV more independently.

RNIB's Big Print Freeview guide has the full listing of the top ten Freeview channels. The Big Print weekly newspaper contains a TV supplement listing programmes on BBC1, 2, ITV1, Channel 4 and channel 5.

RNIB magazines for UK customers gives details of listings for

  • DAISY audio CD, electronic text by email and braille formats
  • radio programmes
  • other general leisure titles.

For more information on accessible TV listings email helpline@rnib.org.uk or telephone 0303 123 9999.

If you watch or record television programmes from your TV, computer, mobile phone, games console, digital box or DVD/VHS recorder, you'll need a TV Licence. You can get a 50 per cent reduction on your TV Licence fee if you're registered blind or severely sight impaired. The concessionary TV Licence will cost £72.75 for colour devices and £24.50 for black and white devices. This licence will cover anyone who lives with you, as long as the licence is in your name. To get the concessionary TV Licence you'll need to complete an application form and provide proof of your registration status. Send the form, proof of registration and payment to:

Concessionary Licensing Centre
TV Licensing
BS98 1TL

If you'd like to renew your current TV Licence, please include either your licence renewal notice or TV Licence number.

If you've already paid the full fee for a TV Licence but you qualify for a blind concession, you may be entitled to a refund. Refunds are only offered for TV Licences bought after 1 April 2000, when the blind concession was introduced. You’ll need to supply proof that you were certified as either blind or severely sight impaired when you bought the licence.

If you're 75 years or older, you're entitled to a free TV Licence. All you need is a National Insurance Number or a recognised document for proof of age such as a passport, UK birth certificate, UK driving licence or national identity card. You do not require a TV licence if you use a digital set-top box solely to listen to television programmes through a hi-fi or stereo system. The set top box must be incapable of recording and must not be connected to a device capable of showing images.

For more information call the TV Licensing Helpline on 0300 790 0366.

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