Posted by Mike Armstrong on , last updated

BBC R&D has contributed significantly towards the development of the technology behind the "big ticket" access services, namely subtitling and audio description.

Whilst there is important work to be done helping maintain and improve our current access services, our research effort is looking towards the future, a future where many of us will live to a ripe old age, and will accumulate impairments and disabilities as time goes on. Over the next 10-20 years, broadcasters will be serving many more older people who will have a wide range of, and also multiple, impairments; not just hearing and vision, but also problems with mobility, dexterity and mental processes.

At the same time broadcast services have never been richer and more interactive. We are investigating the impact of alternative TV control devices, the use of speech and other audio interfaces, optimising choice of font, and providing alternative soundtracks to improve intelligibility.

For these services to be viable the creation and delivery of accessible content must be both affordable and bandwidth efficient. So, as accessibility requirements become more diverse, we are developing new ways of combining broadcast bandwidth with the internet in an efficient way, to give users services personal to their needs. As with much of our accessibility work, this has huge potential to benefit the whole audience.