Old name, new purpose: why we’ve gone back to RNID

Subtitle it!

Without subtitles, TV is unwatchable for so many people.

We’re demanding broadcasters make their content accessible and asking the government to make subtitles a requirement on more services.

Tell government it’s time to Subtitle it!

Sign our petition calling on the government to put the law into action and compel broadcasters to make more content accessible to all.

What we want

The recent crisis in subtitling at Channel 4 has highlighted how important subtitles are. We don’t just want a fix to the problems we have seen over the last few months, we want more. More accessible content so that we can enjoy TV in the same way as everyone else.

Our work with broadcasters

Latest update: Channel 4 partially resolves their subtitling issues

On day 28 of Channel 4’s subtitling crisis we are pleased that Channel 4 have announced that their subtitling issues have been partly resolved. This should mean that most shows will now be available with subtitles on normal TV.

Making TV on-demand accessible

The government has the power to introduce subtitling and signing targets for on-demand TV. But they aren’t doing anything about it. We’re calling on them to put the law into action now.

Timeline of the campaign

2015

  • We launched Subtitle it! in June, because you told us about the importance of accessible TV.
  • Sky (the UK’s biggest paid-for TV provider), subtitled just 4% of its on-demand content. We worked with deaf teenager Jamie Danjoux to promote his petition calling on Sky TV to add subtitles to its on-demand services – and in summer of that year, Sky made a public commitment to take action.

2016

  • We recruited subtitle users to Sky’s subtitle trials and by September 2016, Sky started to roll out subtitles.
  • We’ve worked with other service providers to encourage them to drive up subtitle levels, resulting in providers such as BT committing to the investment of technology to allow subtitles to be shown on its on-demand programmes.

2017

  • Thanks to the support of our campaigners, in early 2017 the Digital Economy Bill was successfully amended to promise new powers to the regulator of TV, Ofcom, to set on-demand subtitle quotas for broadcasters.
  • In April, this Bill became The Digital Economy Act 2017.

2018

  • Ofcom carried out a consultation to establish quotas for the amount of on-demand content that must carry subtitles. Thousands of you contributed to our consultation response to Ofcom, in which we called on TV providers to move towards fully accessible content for those who are deaf or have hearing loss. Read our press release about Ofcom’s 2018 consultation.
  • Ofcom reported back to government and made recommendations on the regulations, proposing that 80% of content should be subtitled and 5% should be signed within four years of the legislation coming into force. We welcomed these recommendations and publicly called on the government to implement them as quickly as possible.

2019

  • In November, the government wrote a letter to Ofcom, requesting a second consultation to get more information on some of the key parameters of the legislation, to help them understand how it should operate in practice.

2020

  • In July, Ofcom’s second consultation was published. It proposed the recommendations from the first consultation should apply to services with 200,000 unique visitors a month and where the costs of access services come to less than 1% of ‘relevant turnover’. We responded, setting out the needs of viewers who are deaf or have hearing loss. Our key points were:
    • we strongly argued against ‘technical exemptions’ where providers and platforms cannot be bothered to work together to provide subtitles
    • subtitles do not provide equivalent access as BSL for deaf people. The needs of the BSL community should not be traded away against other forms of sensory loss
    • an interim one year target should be included, to create reputational risks for those who don’t comply
    • providers should not be allowed to offer subtitles merely on one platform. Each service on each platform should include accessibility as the norm
    • this is a long overdue change in the law that shouldn’t be delayed any further. As soon as Ofcom publishes it recommendations, we will restart our work to campaign for the implementation of the rules.
  • In September, Ofcom’s consultation closed to responses. We expect Ofcom to make final recommendations to government on the regulations in late 2020.

2021

  • In May Ofcom conducted a survey to learn more about the viewing habits and preferences of BSL users. 
  • In JulyOfcom published their final recommendations, giving the government everything they need to enact the law. The targets they recommended are:
    • 40% of on-demand content should be subtitled within 2 years of the legislation coming into force, rising to 80% after 4 years. 
    • 2.5% of on-demand content should be signed within 2 years of the legislation coming into force, rising to 5% after 4 years.
  • We wrote to the Minister for Digital Infrastructure urging them not to delay any further. Read our open letter

With your help, we are going to to keep pushing for subtitles to be available on all TV channels and streaming platforms. It’s time to subtitle it!

Tell government it’s time to Subtitle it!

Sign our petition calling on the government to put the law into action and compel broadcasters to make more content accessible to all.
Sign our petition