Getting the full picture

For people who are deaf, subtitles are vital to their understanding of television programmes.

Action on Hearing Loss. Getting the full picture? Viewers' experience of television subtitling. By Laura Matthews“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(external link, opens new window) (the communications regulator) agreed to look into this issue so we surveyed people’s 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 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 3 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.

Download the report

To read the full findings and recommendations from our report, please download ‘Getting the full picture? Viewers’ experiences of television subtitling’(external link, opens new window).

For further information, please contact our Information Line:

Telephone: 0808 808 0123
Textphone: 0808 808 9000