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      Getting the full picture

      Updated 1 Jan 2013

      For people who are deaf or have hearing loss, subtitles are vital to their understanding of television programmes.

      “They have transformed my leisure time, making it possible to watch, hear or understand TV programmes which I just couldn’t do without subtitles.” Survey respondent

      Encouragingly, the amount of programmes being broadcast with subtitles has steadily increased over the past few decades, as a result of both legislation and a commitment from broadcasters. We continue to work closely with broadcasters to raise awareness of the importance of subtitling. However, we regularly receive complaints about the quality of subtitles from our members and supporters.

      About our survey

      Ofcom (the communications regulator) agreed to look into this issue, so we surveyed people for their experiences of subtitles to ensure that we had up-to-date research to inform Ofcom’s review.

      We opened the online survey at the end of July 2013 and received 580 responses by early September. We asked people to note down any problems they had with subtitles whenever they watched TV. Specifically, the survey provided space for three different programmes – including fields for the name of the programme, the time and date, and channel (although there was nothing to stop someone from filling it in again). This provided a good snapshot of the current quality of subtitle provision.

      What else have we done?

      We have worked extensively with the government and broadcasters to improve subtitle provision for people who use them. Read more about our Subtitle It! campaign.

      Subtitle it campaign logo

      Find out more about our Subtitle it! campaign aiming at improving access to subtitles on video-on-demand content