If you are finding it difficult to watch your favourite television programmes or films, you can enable audio description (AD).

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Audio description (AD) is additional commentary that explains what’s happening on screen. AD describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound.

We spoke to blind and partially sighted people about why AD is so important to them – watch our film now:

Audio description on TV

To get audio described TV programmes, you’ll need digital television. You get digital TV via Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media, Freesat and YouView. This is either built into your television or it’s a set top box connected to your television.

Find out more about AD for Freeview, Sky and Virgin Media:

Further information for Freesat and YouView:

  • All Freesat devices deliver audio description which can be enabled using the AD button on the remote control. Some people may need assistance to find this button.
  • Visit the YouView website to find out more, this includes other linked services including BT TV, TalkTalk TV and Plusnet.

Visit our television section for further information about audio description, accessible TV devices, TV listings and TV licence concessions.

Read about the latest developments and products in television, radio and film for blind and partially sighted people:

Read the latest news

Immersive accessibility

Immersive experiences, including 360 degree video (360), Virtual Reality (VR) and Extended Reality (XR), need to be accessible for people with sight loss. It's an emerging technology but videos shot in 360 degree formats, for instance, have been made accessible through audio description, audio subtitles and immersive sound.

RNIB seeks to support and advance excellence in the delivery of accessible experiences to people with sight loss, nationally as well as internationally, by collaborating with other organisations.

Find out more about our pioneering work:

Audio description in cinemas

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

For more information visit the FAQs page on the Accessible Screenings UK website.

Audio description in theatres

Many theatres across the UK provide audio description. This is generally available at one or two performances for each production, and is delivered via infrared, radio or WiFi to a receiver that audience members usually book in advance when purchasing tickets.

Introductory notes describing the visual world of the show and its characters are often made available to audience members in advance of the audio described performance, which is usually immediately preceded by an onstage touch tour, where audiences can familiarise themselves with the set, handle costumes and props, and meet some of the actors.

To find out if there are audio-described shows at your local theatre, check their website or contact them directly.

Several organisations provide listings of audio-described performances:

Audio description in museums and galleries

Museums offer AD in a variety of ways to support access to their exhibitions, events and sites.

Recorded AD guides to special exhibitions or permanent galleries can help you to enjoy independent visits to the museum, at any time. They usually include descriptions of highlight exhibits, with directions in between to help you navigate through the gallery. The recordings are often available online, for downloading or streaming through your own device. Alternatively, the museum may provide handsets on site.

Live audio descriptive tours will usually take place on a specific advertised date. They offer the opportunity to experience the highlights of an exhibition or gallery as part of a group, and may include the option to touch or handle artefacts. Some museums will offer live audio-described tours on request – these often require pre-booking, so check with the individual museum.

The VocalEyes website lists events and provision at many museums, but do also contact individual museums for full details of what they offer.

Audio description apps

Apps offer an efficient solution for people who are using connected devices for multiple tasks. Aside from audio description, these apps can open up a whole new dimension for viewers who prefer to watch films or TV programmes in an alternative language.

You can find out more information on our audio description apps page.