For those of you who haven’t yet noticed from the recent slew of adverts relating to the matter, the BBC has recently been trying to improve both the level of service it offers its blind audience and raise awareness that it does cater for the blind and partially sighted. As of 2003 the BBC has been required to provide a portion of its broadcasts with audio description, with the percentage increasing every two years. It isn't just the Beeb though, almost 76 channels are now legally obliged to offer some broadcasts in this format, and most DVDs (as well has Blu-ray and HD DVD) also offer an audio descriptive soundtrack.
Unless you have cable TV or Sky, using audio descriptive functionality has required buying a separate and expensive, decoder – the Portset Digital Media Centre, for example, costs upwards of £849. While the TV Licence fee now allows a 50 per cent concession if you, or someone in your household, is registered blind, there is still clearly room for improvement in this area.
Sony’s new range of Bravia TVs is set to make that change, by using the built-in digital decoder, owners will be able to ‘watch’ any Freeview broadcast that includes audio description as well as the programme guide. All in all it looks, or should that be sounds, like Sony may actually be doing something good for UK customers (unlike its PS3 pricing).