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Accessible Services on Freeview

Posted June 5, 2015 - Accessibility

Freeview works with manufacturers and broadcasters to make TV services accessible to viewers with disabilities by incorporating features such as audio description and subtitles.

Channels on Freeview

If need a large format print guide to the Freeview Channels go to our channels page, then select list view and print.

Or you can call our advice line on 03456 50 50 50 and listen to our talking channel list.

Viewers with hearing or speech impediment can contact an adviser through our Textphone service – 0330 332 0975

Accessibility support on your Freeview equipment

There are a range of services available which can improve your Freeview viewing including Audio Description, subtitles and signing. 

Audio Description

Audio Description is a free service that can improve the enjoyment of TV for people with sight problems by adding additional commentary describing body language, expressions and movements. Audio description

Many popular are audio described, from soaps and dramas to children’s programmes and films.

A comprehensive schedule of programmes with audio description can be found on the TV Help website.

Many Freeview products have audio description (including all Freeview HD equipment). To find equipment with audio description, contact your local electrical retailer or visit the RNIB website or call the RNIB on 0303 123 9999.

For more general information visit the audio description website or call the audio description helpline on either 08456 01 01 81 or 0161 234 9063. 


Subtitles are the text version of on-screen dialogue, usually displayed at the bottom of the screen to help viewers who are hard of hearing to read the dialogue that is being spoken. Most programmes are now subtitled on Freeview and the service is constantly increasing.

You can now get subtitles with most Freeview equipment, and they can be accessed in one of two ways:


  • Press the Subtitles button (may also be shown as SUB – check the user manual) on the remote control of your set-top box or digital television.
  • Press the Menu button, then follow the on-screen options until you reach options for language and subtitles

Find out more about what to look for in subtitling on products from the RICA website (Consumer Research for Older and Disabled People)  which has information on how different makes and models of digital TVs and boxes display subtitles. 


All signing on television involves a visible signer translating for a particular programme – this is known as open signing. The signer usually appears in the bottom corner of the screen, with the programme being broadcast full size or positioned away from that corner in a slightly smaller size.

The number of programmes available with signing is much less than subtitling. However, you can find out more about signing by visiting the Action for Hearing Loss website.

Specialist Equipment

There are a number digital television devices or systems in the market that have been developed to offer greater access to digital TV viewers with hearing or visual impairments.

Freeview equipment

Many Freeview TVs, boxes or recorders including all Freeview HD products have access to the features discussed above such as subtitling, signing and audio description.

Talking Devices

There is a range of digital television equipment which have a talking feature (known as voice guidance).This helps guide visually impaired users on what is happening as they navigate television services with the remote control.

There are a number of devices currently available which provide text to speech support. To find out more, visit the RNIB website.

Induction Loop

Induction loop systems are designed so that you can hear sounds more clearly because they reduce or cut out background noise. At home, you could use a loop to hear sound from your television. They can be used with most digital TV’s and boxes.

If you have a hearing impairment, using a loop system with a television means that if you are with a hearing person you can set the volume to a level that is comfortable for them. You can make the sound louder for you by adjusting the volume on your hearing aid or loop listener. You can also adjust the volume and tone on most loop amplifiers.

For more information on induction loop systems you can contact Action on Hearing Loss

Telephone: 0808 808 0123 or Textphone: 0808 808 9000.

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