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ITVX to feature world’s first full-time British Sign Language channel


When ITVX officially launches on December 8, viewers will have access to a worldwide streaming first – a British Sign Language (BSL) channel, featuring entirely signed programming.

The channel will stream favourites including the Emmerdale and Coronation Street omnibus episodes, Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow, Vera, Lewis, and The Saint and will be regularly updated to include both recent and archive programming from a variety of genres.

The BSL channel will be among 20 themed channels available at ITVX’s launch, which are designed to offer the lean-back experience of watching a scheduled channel. The themed channels will appear in the ‘live’ section of the service, directly below ITV’s six existing linear channels – ITV1, ITV2, ITV3, ITV4, ITVBe and CITV.

ITV’s director of accessibility David Padmore said: “We’re committed to placing great accessibility at the heart of ITVX and our offering at launch represents significant progress on ITV Hub. Our ITV Signed Channel gives us a fantastic platform for showcasing our rich archive of signed programmes.”

Teri Devine, associate director for inclusion at the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID, added: “Following the recognition of the British Sign Language Act earlier this year, it is fantastic to see more and more industries and organisations become accessible to BSL users. We’re thrilled that ITV have considered the accessibility of BSL users for the launch of their new channel feature, making it easier for them to find new signed content. Building in accessibility from the start is important and should be the norm, and we look forward to seeing ITV expanding its access services across the remaining platforms.”

Accessibility is a core principle of ITV’s new streaming service, and teams have worked to ensure the brand, design and user interfaces are accessible and support assistive technology such as screen readers. ITVX promises subtitles for over 90 per cent of on-demand programmes on every platform and device. Subtitles will also be available on all 20 themed channels on all platforms except Freeview, YouView, Freesat and Chromecast, at launch, with subtitling gaps due to resolved in the first half of 2023.

Audio description will also available for around 20 per cent of programmes on the platform at launch, including all new ITV drama, with platforms prioritised in consultation with the RNIB. At-launch audio description works on the mobile apps, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Samsung TVs, Chromecast (iOS only) and Sky Glass. ITV teams are still working on browsers and the remaining connected TV platforms, and hope to make description available on these in the first half of 2023. ITV adds that it is committed to continuing to improve the inclusive design as ITVX evolves.

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