Ensure that information is available to users with no sight


Information that is presented on screen in the form of text or graphics must also be made available in an audible form for non-sighted people.

Directions and techniques

Provide spoken output of text

The only way to make all visual text available to people with no vision is to have it spoken. There are two ways to speak this information:

  • As part of an audio description track.
  • By the presenter, narrator or reporter, as part of the
    programme audio itself.

For programmes with an audio description track, the dialogue and other sounds will have to be paused for long enough to allow the information to be spoken in the audio description. This is difficult in some cases because presenters often want to continue speaking while the information is shown. Also, the time taken to speak the information in the audio description is usually less than the time the information needs to be displayed to give viewers long enough to read it. The best editorial decision is often not to rely on audio description but to ensure that the presenter, narrator or reporter reads out the information during the programme. This is always necessary for programmes without an audio description track.

Information such as contact details or details of entry into a competition should be read out clearly, and in full. Email or online addresses should be read out letter by letter (or number by number) if they cannot be voiced as easily understood words. Bear in mind that people who have been blind since birth or an early age have relied on hearing rather than visual reading so often have difficulties spelling words. Unless an address consists of common words that are spelled phonetically, it is usually best to spell it out letter by letter.

In quiz shows where information shown to the viewer is hidden to the contestants, a voiceover can be used to call out information that is visible and not described by the quiz show presenter.

Contributors (such as news readers or people being interviewed) should be identified verbally on their first appearance, or at some other editorially logical point.

In some cases it may be possible for subtitles of foreign language contributions to be translated in the main programme language using a voiceover.

Provide spoken descriptions of important graphics

As much of the pertinent information presented in graphics as possible should be described verbally. For example, rather than simply saying as you can see, the figures show a big change and it’s betting bigger, a presenter could say the figures show an increase of 45% since 2007 and 30% in the past year alone.

It may help to instruct the narrator or presenter to imagine that he or she is describing the information to radio listeners.

How you could test for this

The simplest test for this is for a researcher to watch programmes with the screen hidden and listen out for any instances where textual information is referred to but not fully described in speech. However, this can be quite difficult and disorientating for a person who is not used to it, so it may be better to get the input of blind viewers.

Blind viewers will be able to give feedback on their experiences watching a television programme and the information can be collected by telephone interview after the programme. However, it is also useful to run some tests where the researcher sits with the viewer while they watch the programme. This is because it is difficult for a blind person to record instances of missing information while they are watching the programme and they may not remember all of them if asked afterwards.