Audio description on TV

Audio description makes our TV services more accessible to blind and visually impaired people by explaining what is happening on screen using the gaps in dialogue. We routinely exceed the targets we are set by Ofcom to provide 10% of our programme available with AD.

Audio description describes what is happening on screen using the gaps between dialogue. This helps viewers with visual impairments to follow what is going on.

Audio descriptions of changes of location, actions, facial expressions, gestures and so on give the context and set the scene. They are fitted between dialogue or commentary to avoid interrupting the flow of the programme.

The BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Five are committed to audio describing at least 6% of their annual output. The BBC is now audio describing 20% of its content on BBC One, BBC Two, BBC Three, BBC Four, CBBC and CBeebies. Programmes include popular soaps, dramas, comedies and children's programmes.

Audio description is a free service and is available on digital TV on Freeview (with a suitable set-top box or digital TV), Sky and Freesat from Sky satellite, and Virgin Media cable. It is also available on BBC iPlayer.

You can find schedules of BBC programmes by using our Programmes website, Ceefax, digital text pages or listings magazines such as Radio Times. From spring 2009 you will be able to check the Programmes website to see whether a programme has audio description.

For details of how to get audio description, go to Help receiving BBC TV and radio or the RNIB Audio Description website.