[BCAB] Accessible TV Guide

RNIB media.and.culture.rnib at gmail.com
Mon Oct 21 11:56:38 BST 2019

Hi all,

There's been a few threads on the Digital UK/Freeview accessible EPG which
I'll try to answer together (since a bunch of email security policies are
conspiring to make it hard to reply to individual emails).

Phil hit the nail on the head. The EPG is an HbbTV app and the fact it's
accessed by a channel is just because that's how Digital UK can provide
access. It won't just be a stream of audio but will be a spoken interface
which can be navigated using your remote control.

This does mean it will require the TV to be connected to the internet. We
discussed with Digital UK that this would require some people to be
connected to the internet where they hadn’t felt the need before but the
feeling is that as internet connected devices get easier to use (such as
voice assistants) there will be a tipping point where even more
technophobic users will find that an internet connection is worth the money
and hassle. In terms of the hassle, RNIB’s volunteers can help out with
that and I’m sure local sightloss societies will be able to offer help as

I think manufacturers saying that they don’t need to add accessibility
since it’s now all there is a risk but I don’t think it’s a large risk for
a few reasons. 1, not all manufacturers have Freeview Play TVs. Freeview
Play is where HbbTV is integrated into a Freeview TV and in a way it is a
competing technology to manufacturers own smart TV solutions. 2,
manufacturers are very keen that their own branding gets maximum exposure
which is what kept sinking any proposals of a Universal API (ie. if
everyone offered the same control API for their TV then one accessible
smartphone app could make them all accessible). As much as possible they
like to control the way menus and interfaces look especially things like
the EPG which gets so much use.  3, I agree with Phil's point that although
the EPG is the heart of the TV experience you can’t claim your TVs are
properly accessible if none of the other menus can be used.

We’ve got a bit of momentum in accessible TVs in the UK and I think this
will continue. I think any manufacturer that says they don’t need to add
accessibility since it’s already there had no intention of making things
accessible in the first place.

Having accessibility in all Freeview Play devices does increase choice
which is surely a good thing.


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