Accessing audio description on your TV: an informative guide

07 August 2020

Each week the ABC and SBS transmits approximately 14 hours of audio described (AD) programming across selected drama, documentary, lifestyle and children’s programs.

For ease of use, Vision Australia has provided a weekly list of the combined programming schedule here.

In order to access audio description, you need to turn on the features on your television.

There are a range of ways to do this depending on the television being used. The two easiest ways to turn on audio description is via the accessibility features on the remote or television set.

Vision Australia’s audio description team have provided this list of instructions for common television models.

The ability to access audio description also depends on having a television that can access it. The age and model of the television will impact on how easy it is to access audio description and some older devices (manufactured before 2014) may not support it at all.

To see if your television or set top box supports audio description, check the instruction manuals or on-screen settings menus. Retailers or manufacturers may also be able to provide advice.

If your TV doesn’t support the audio description service, you may have to upgrade your television receiver or purchase a set top box capable of receiving audio description. Those who are part of the NDIS may be able to apply for support.

Unfortunately, due to the inaccessibility of some televisions and the placement of buttons on remotes, some people may need a sighted person to assist with initial set up. While a mobility support person may be able to help, in most cases a sighted person in the household should be adequate. Using Be My Eyes, Aira or Seeing AI may also be useful for people who are unable to gain sighted support.

Please be aware that for some TVs and set top boxes, audio description may not stay on after the device is switched off, or if the channel is changed. You may have to turn audio description on again if you experience this problem.

Many TVs have an accessibility section in settings. If your television has accessibility settings, go to those settings and turn on audio description.

If not, you can check if your television has a setting to switch on a secondary language, which is likely to be listed in the menu as ‘english’ or ‘eng’. Switch this on to access audio description.

Alternatively, check your remote for a button with the words ’audio’, ‘settings’, ‘options’, ‘Smarthub’ or ‘language’. Press this button and follow the screen instructions to activate audio description.

Click here for a full guide of helpful instructions on how to turn on audio description settings on your television.

If you feel you require further assistance, please contact the Vision Australia helpdesk either by phone on 1300 84 74 66 or via email at athelp@visionaustralia.org.

You can also get in touch with the ABC on 139 994 (Mon-Fri 8am-8pm) or email ad@your.abc.net.au.