Audio Description on television

Which platforms carry Audio Description?

Analogue terrestrial

None currently, and none intended. As this service will be switched off sometime in the next ten years, plans to deliver a service over analogue terrestrial television were abandoned in favour of digital services.

Actually, that's not entirely true. Some of the BBC's overnight Sign Zone programmes have an open description. It's referred to in the Radio Times as 'enhanced commentary'.

Digital terrestrial

Now branded as 'Freeview'. Thirteen channels carry a service currently at a level of six per cent but due to steadily rise over the next four years. To find out what you need to receive it, have a look at this list of DTT equipment. To find out if you can get Freeview in your area, try Freeview's postcode check. Freeview offers 34 TV and 24 Radio free channels, plus 11 subscription TV channels through Top-up TV.
When installing a digital receiver, you may need a new aerial if the transmitters in your area use a different group. Check using this list of transmitter links. There's an up-to-date status on BBC's reception advice. You may like to check the schedule of Audio Described programmes.

Digital satellite

There are now three routes to receive television on Digital Satellite: Subscription from Sky, Freesat from Sky and Freesat. Freesat itself is a new organisation, totally separate from B Sky B, owned by BBC and ITV. Some channels are regionalised, so you may need to use a different channel number to access the audio description for BBC1, BBC2, ITV1 and Channel 4, depending on where you live.
We have detailed instructions on how to activate audio description on Sky.

If you are interested in satellite listings, please check the Sky schedule.
We now also have Freesat listings.

Analogue Virgin Media cable

None currently, and none intended. Analogue services are gradually being phased out.

Digital Virgin Media cable

Yes! There are instructions for Virgin Media boxes. There is now also an audio description listing for Virgin Media.

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Last updated 11 May 2007.
For further information, contact RNIB's Broadcasting team.