Accessible TV Guide on Freeview Play

Accessing programme guides on your TV can be challenging if you are visually impaired. Most standard TV guides feature text in a small font on quite a visually busy screen.
To address the lack of accessibility of standard TV guides, Freeview has developed a solution in the form of an accessible TV guide, which won Gold at the 2020 Connected TV Awards for ‘Advancing the user experience’. The guide is available on select Freeview Play devices.
Richard from our Digital Enablement Team explains all you need to know.

What is the Accessible TV Guide?

Freeview Play’s accessible TV Guide is an Electronic Programme Guide with customisable features to suit people with all levels of vision. The guide supports text-to-speech (this is automatically enabled when you first access the guide but you can disable it if you prefer), large white text on a black background and half the number of lines of text that you would see on a standard TV guide. The guide contains minimal information and you can reduce the information further by filtering programmes by type, for example filtering the guide to only show programmes with audio description.

Accessible TV guide on screen, showing white text on black background

Where is the accessible TV Guide located?

The accessible TV Guide is located by going to Channel 555. You can either access this via the remote control’s keypad (the number 5 is the only number with a raised dot present), or by using your voice if you have a TV linked to either Alexa or Google Assistant.

Watch our video below to learn more about controlling your TV with Alexa.

When can I use the accessible TV Guide?

This will depend on if you have a Freeview Play device that is compatible with the accessible TV Guide. On Freeview’s website, there is a list of compatible devices. Freeview will be rolling out the accessible guide to more devices over the coming months.

To access the guide, your TV needs to be connected to the Internet and you need to ensure that it is retuned with the most up-to-date channel listings.

How does the Accessible TV guide work?

Setting up the guide

On your first visit, you will be asked to set your preferences. Text-to-speech is automatically turned on for your first visit but you can turn it off if you prefer. You can also adjust other text-to-speech settings such as voice, volume and speed.

You can also set filters so that the guide only displays audio described programmes, programmes with subtitles and/or programmes with sign language.

To move through the preferences, use the up and down arrow controls on your remote control, and to select a preference press the OK button (or equivalent).

Once you have set your preferences, press the right arrow on your remote control. Next you are taken to an agreement page requesting permission to collect data anonymously to improve the service. You can opt in by pressing right arrow or opt out by pressing down arrow. Either will bring you to the TV guide.

Next time you access this service, you will be taken straight to the TV guide but you can change these preferences in the future by selecting the settings option.

Main menu of accessible TV guide

Using the guide

Once you have set up your preferences, and every time you access the guide afterwards, you will always start from the same point. The focus will be on the channel, which starts with BBC One.

You can scroll through the channels using the left and right arrow keys. To change the day, press the up arrow and then use the left and right arrows to scroll through the days. You can go up to seven days into the future.

To find out what is on, on the date and channel selected, use the down arrow to get to the programmes. When you are on the programme section, use the up and down arrows to scroll through. If you find a programme you want to watch and it is being broadcast at the time, you can press OK to go straight to the channel.

My verdict

This TV guide addresses all the points that I would suggest should be considered when designing a service of this nature.

One of the things I like about this is the fact that you always start at exactly the same place, BBC One,  Today. I can imagine this avoiding the potential confusion of trying to establish where you are and how to get to where you want to be.

This is a great addition to Freeview Play giving visually impaired people an accessible and easy-to-use programme guide on their TV.

Find Out More

If you want to know more about Freeview’s accessible TV guide, watch our video in which Mark talks through the guide’s features and gives a demonstration to showcase its interface.

If you are visually impaired and live in Greater Manchester and would like to know more about using technology to access television, why not get in touch with our Digital Enablement Team either by calling us on 0300 222 5555 or via email at info@henshaws.org.uk.

We also have lots of great content in our Knowledge Village, including information about the accessibility of TV catch-up services, and a video demonstrating how you can use your voice to control Apple TV.

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Alice
Alice is the Digital Communications Officer and is responsible for producing blogs and EBooks for Henshaws Knowledge Village.