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

Audio Description on TV

Audio Description (AD), a free service, describes body language, expressions and movements, making the programme clear through sound.

Most major broadcasters (like the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky) provide AD on 20 per cent of their programmes. AD is also available in Welsh on selected Welsh language programmes.

Accessible TV devices

Samsung Televisions with Voice Guide

Samsung have now built speech into the majority of their new televisions. The feature is called Voice Guide and is available on all series 7, 8 and 9 models and most series 6 models. All functions of the TV should speak, including speech support on some third-party apps including Netflix and YouTube.

Sony Android Televisions

Sony Televisions based on Android TV have a screen reader option which will read out almost all screens and menus including the Sony EPG (Electronic Programme Guide). Apps such as Netflix and Youtube also work with the screenreader although the YouView interface which is available is not yet accessible through speech.

Panasonic television with Voice Guidance

Panasonic has sold talking TVs since 2012 which announce on-screen information and the most important menus. The banner information, accessibility menu and volume controls have speech but the Electronic Program Guide currently doesn't.

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. Apple TV enables access to video on demand services and TV catch-up apps but does not show standard broadcast TV.

Fire TV

Amazon’s Fire TV in the UK now has speech. Users can browse Amazon’s catalogue, using the voice search function and view content. Third party apps are currently not supported. Fire TV enables access to video on demand services and TV catch-up apps but does not show standard broadcast TV.

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.

RNIB's Big Print Freeview guide has the full listing of the top ten Freeview channels. The Big Print TV/Radio guide has listings for the most popular TV and radio channels, including Channel 5 and Classic FM.

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.

TV License concession

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. However, you can get a 50 per cent reduction on your TV Licence fee if you're registered blind or severely sight impaired. To find out whether you qualify and how to apply for a TV License concession go to the TV Licensing website.

Useful resources

Please visit our useful resources page for other TV listings and other helpful downloads.