Channel 4: Improved Access for Disabled Viewers

Channel 4 logo in white beside the On Demand logo which is a capital D with a O in the middle. The background is pale blue and all thetext is in white
Channel 4
19 Apr 2022

In the summer of 2021 - the run up before the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics - we worked with Channel 4, who wanted to assess the accessibility and inclusivity of its online offer, including on-demand services.

We undertook targeted research including a large-scale survey of almost 1,000 disabled people, in-depth interviews and participant video diaries, all to get an in-depth understanding of the viewing experience of disabled people. There was also significant user-led accessibility testing of All 4’s microsites.  

Pam, from Great Yarmouth, a participant in the research said: 

“I’m hard of hearing so subtitles need to always be on…I’m also 90% of the time in a wheelchair and have bad dexterity and am sometimes bed bound so it’s really important to me to be able to watch TV, it’s a distraction.”  

Another participant said:  

“Audio description is so important – a sighted person can see it but a blind person doesn’t know what’s happening, so we miss part of that story and narration.” 

John, from Motherwell

Collating the insights and outcomes, we produced a range of presentations, reports and video evidence for Channel 4, on how they could improve the accessibility of their on-demand service, All 4.

The Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics made history. Under broadcasters Channel 4, coverage of the games was hosted by a presenting team made up of all disabled people. A global first to have an entire disabled presenting and punditry team for a world class sporting event. Equally important is the commitment of Channel 4 to improved access services for viewers - during the games and beyond.

Channel 4 has since provided 86 hours of access services’ supported programming during the Paralympic games, and committed to improved access services for disabled viewers throughout the year, including:

  • Return to 100% subtitles across all linear channels 
  • Achieve 100% subtitles on All 4 by the end of 2022 
  • Increase signing from 5% to 10% on Channel 4 and E4 
  • Increase Audio Description to 45% on all its linear channels 
  • Increase the number of signed and audio described box-sets on All4  

Diarmid Thackery, Viewer Insight at Channel 4 says: 

“At Channel 4 and All 4, we are passionate about and committed to understanding all of our viewers and users. We strive to put the viewer at the heart of our decision-making and actively seek out lesser heard voices in the user research we do."

"The care and thoroughness with which RiDC approached our study was amazing and demonstrative of their expertise in the field. The findings from the work have been transformative in the way that we think about the user experience of those who need more accessible Video On Demand apps and services."

"Moreover, the report provided us with a meaningful list of actionable recommendations that, once actioned, will improve the lives of all our users.”