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TV important to blind people

4th March 2008

Research has shown TV is very important to many of the 2 million people in Britain who have sight problems.

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The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) says that TV plays a key part in the lives of blind people. The Institute wants to encourage blind people to employ the Audio Description (AD) tool, which is offered free on digital TV.

The AD service acts to describe what is happening on screen through a commentary. It is provided on Sky, Virgin Media and some FreeView boxes.

Richard Orme, head of accessibility at RNIB, commented that although television is often given a bad press it actually brought people together and kept them informed about what was happening in the world.

"Many of the nation's favourite TV moments have never been fully enjoyed by the UK's blind and partially sighted population. AD is changing this."

He added that in addition to giving blind people access to TV programmes, "it can transform their relationship with the world around them."

A team from the University of Nottingham interviewed 172 people by telephone and held two focus groups. They discovered that over 50% of the study's respondents stated they tuned in to watch drama and factual programming.

Almost 75% said they watched TV for five hours or over per week. 86% told the study that they "would watch more" if the AD commentary was offered for more programmes.

The RNIB said only 13% of current TV programmes provide the AD service and called for an increase.



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