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ITVX launches world-first British sign language channel

When ITVX officially launches on 8 December, Deaf viewers will have access to what is a worldwide streaming first – a British Sign Language channel, solely featuring signed programming, which will include a range of shows like the Emmerdale and Coronation Street omnibus episodes, Cilla, Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow, Vera, Lewis, and The Saint. The channel will be regularly updated and will evolve to include both recent and archive programming from a wide variety of genres.

ITVX will launch with a selection of 20 themed channels, which are designed to offer a lean-back experience of watching a scheduled channel, and these channels will appear in the ‘live’ section of the service, directly below ITV’s six existing channels (ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe and CITV).

ITV’s Director of Accessibility, David Padmore, said:

“We’re committed to placing great accessibility at the heart of ITVX and our offering at launch represents significant progress on ITV Hub. Our ITV Signed Channel gives us a fantastic platform for showcasing our rich archive of signed programmes.”

Teri Devine, Associate Director for Inclusion at RNID, said:

“Following the recognition of the British Sign Language (BSL) Act earlier this year, it is fantastic to see more and more industries and organisations become accessible to BSL users. We’re thrilled that ITV have considered the accessibility of BSL users for the launch of their new channel feature, making it easier for them to find new signed content. Building in accessibility from the start is important and should be the norm, and we look forward to seeing ITV expanding its access services across the remaining platforms. For support or information, visit RNID.org.uk”

Accessibility is a core principle of ITV’s new streaming service, and teams across ITV have worked to ensure the brand, design and user interfaces are accessible and that they support assistive technology such as screen readers. ITV is committed to continuing to improve the inclusive design as ITVX evolves.

ITVX will offer over 10,000 hours of programming at launch, a huge increase on the volume of content on ITV Hub, and a big priority has been subtitling and audio-describing this rich selection of programming.

ITVX will now have subtitles for over 90% of on-demand programmes on every platform and device – from the mobile apps, through the main web browsers to all connected TVs and plug-in devices.

For live TV watched through ITVX, subtitles will be available to around 80% of viewers, watching through our mobile apps, web browsers and most connected TV devices, with work in progress to enable live subtitling via the remaining platforms, Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Chromecast.

Subtitles will also be available on all 20 themed channels on all platforms except Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Chromecast, at launch.

The remaining subtitling gaps will be resolved in the first half of 2023.

Audio description is available for around 20% of programmes on the platform at launch, including all new ITV drama, with platforms prioritised in consultation with the RNIB. At launch audio description works on the mobile apps, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Samsung TVs, Chromecast (iOS only) and Sky Glass. ITV teams are still working on browsers and the remaining connected TV platforms, and we hope to make AD available on these in the first half of 2023.

ITV is delighted to bring this world-first British Sign Language (BSL) channel to the service, and a top post-launch accessibility priority is to provide additional BSL content on demand. BCS Bureau

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