This year, yet again, RNIB has been calling on the UK’s biggest retailers to make their much-anticipated Christmas TV adverts accessible.

A TV remote with Christmas lights in the background

The first sign that Christmas is just around the corner is seeing festive adverts take over our televisions, but almost two million people with sight loss are potentially excluded from some, or all, of these Christmas moments because they aren’t produced with audio description (AD) which makes the content accessible. That's why RNIB has called upon UK retailers to add AD to their ads.

David Clarke, RNIB Director of Services, said: “Christmas TV adverts have become an essential part of the UK’s festive culture and we believe that everyone should be able to take part in the conversation around them, regardless of how much they see. With audio description added to adverts, blind and partially sighted consumers can enjoy and understand content through sound as it describes body language, expressions and movements which are otherwise lost to them. 

“Retailers that make their adverts more inclusive by adding audio description are opening themselves up to two million consumers that they would otherwise miss out on. This not only makes good business sense, but they are also easy to produce at a tiny fraction of the budget most brands spend on Christmas marketing anyway. It is also the right thing to do to make everyone feel included.

“We’ve contacted many of the largest retailers again this year, urging them not to exclude blind and partially sighted people from enjoying these much-loved launches. We are delighted that many have got back to us, including The John Lewis Partnership and Aldi, to confirm that they will make their adverts accessible, which is very promising. We are also encouraging retailers to make all their future adverts accessible and RNIB will be happy to support them on this journey.”

Claire Pointon, John Lewis Customer Director, said: “The John Lewis Partnership is committed to making its Christmas campaigns accessible to blind and partially sighted consumers. Over the years the premier of our Christmas advert has become a much-heralded TV and online viewing event that receives significant media attention. We are delighted to confirm that our advert will have audio description so that consumers with sight loss don’t miss out on the fun when it is premiered. We will continue to work with RNIB to ensure that our organisation continues to be accessible for blind and partially sighted consumers, whether they shop online or in-store.”

Richard Thornton, Communications Director at Aldi, said: “We’ve been working closely with the RNIB to look at a number of initiatives across our business and we’re really pleased that we have been able to incorporate audio description into our main Christmas advert. We look forward to continuing to work with the RNIB to meet the needs of our colleagues and customers.”

The UK has a flourishing industry of AD providers to aid retailers in becoming accessible. Adding AD is one of the most straightforward and reasonable assets to produce. Find out more about the importance of audio description in TV ads.