Subtitles on all programs on all platforms

Subtitles on all programs on all platforms

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Becky Wood started this petition to Ofcom

As someone with hearing loss and auditory processing difficulties, I am fed up with my viewing choices being dictated by what programs are and aren't subtitled. I don't mean the recent technological outage that meant that all programs on some channels were not subtitled (which Ofcom have announced they will investigate). I mean in general. It's 2022; Deaf people and those with hearing difficulties should have equal access to all types of media, consistently and reliably.

Whilst there has been an improvement in the quality of subtitling on some programes, to include song titles rather than just "MUSIC", and better description of non-verbal sounds and smaller details of the auditory landscape, this is inconsistent. The inclusion of non-transparent face masks in recent dramatisations to reflect the global pandemic have not helped. Stylistic production choices such as loud background music and actors mumbling to be more "realistic", all make things very difficult. Actors do not speak into the camera, they are often facing away or are shown in a long shot. They have conversations on the phone where you can only hear (see) half the conversation.

Even when subtitles are available on a 9pm showing, they may not be available on the 2am repeat. Programs that are broadcast on Sky with subtitles are not available with subtitles on the Sky Go viewing app, because the Sky Go app does not have subtitles.

Subtitles benefit other people too: those watching in noisy environments like care home lounges, hospitals or waiting rooms, people on public transport, those in silent environments, occasions when you don't want to wake your partner or baby, people with auditory processing difficulties who need information in a written format.

We need subtitles. Ofcom, please do more to ensure that broadcasters are not discriminating against Deaf viewers and those of us with hearing difficulties in their failure to provide consistent, reliable and high quality subtitles on all showings of all programs on all platforms.

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