Whether its broadcast or delivered by IP, digital TV offers great potential for interactivity and receiver functionality. However, it is all too easy to overlook the needs of those affected by sensory and physical disabilities. Steps can be taken during programme making and publication to ensure that content is accessible to the widest possible audience. Similarly, unless care is taken in the design of devices that display content, many potential users will find them difficult and complex to use.
The DTG Accessibility Working Group strives to make both services and products accessible and produces guidelines for both programme makers and manufacturers.
In a 2013 Fact Sheet, The World Health Organisation estimated there to be a billion people worldwide with some form of disability. It also confirmed that the incidence of disability is increasing due to population ageing, among other causes.
According to the European Disability Forum (EDF), one in four Europeans has a family member with a disability. This suggests that around 25% of households in Europe includes a viewer with accessibility needs.
Both sight and hearing loss are widespread disabilities in the UK and Europe, while at the same time television is arguably the most prevalent daily medium. Television programming should not be seen as a luxury, but a key part of citizenship and participation. This is why accessibility of television services is so important.
Using an audio-visual medium like digital television creates challenges for specific groups of disabled and older people. Individuals with sight or hearing loss are particularly affected, but there are also accessibility challenges for people with physical and cognitive disabilities.
Right from that start, the DTG has recognised the needs of disabled television consumers and has been active in trying to harness opportunities to improve the accessibility of digital television.
The DTG and its members contributed significantly to the governments Digital Action Plan. This included working to ensure that accessible solutions were available to older and disabled people during the UKs digital switchover. The DTG has also published the U-Book, which complements the DTG D-Book and provides detailed usability and accessibility guidelines for manufacturers.
More recently, the DTGs focus has been on Connected TV and ensuring that access services such as subtitles and audio description are as widely available as possible.
As television evolves, the DTG Accessibility Working Group continues to develop guidance and define opportunities to harness new technologies to improve services and products. The group also raises awareness among key stakeholders about the need for accessible solutions and content.
The DTGs groundbreaking work on text-to-speech for digital television, through a partnership with DigitalEurope, culminated in an International Standard IEC 62731: Text-to-speech for television General requirements.
In addition to ongoing work to keep the U-Book up to date, the DTG Accessibility Working Group is now also preparing guidelines on the clarity of broadcast speech.
The Working Group includes representatives of manufacturers, broadcasters, charities and organisations working for those with a wide range of disabilities, including sight and hearing loss. The DTG welcomes more participation. For details contact [email protected]
Disability is defined in the UK Equality and Human Rights Act: www.equalityhumanrights.com/advice-and-guidance/new-equality-act-guidance/
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