People with disabilities: leisure at home

There are services available that make TV more accessible if you have sensory impairments. Magazines and newspapers are also available in accessible formats, including Braille, large print and audio. You can also get a discount for your TV licence if you are registered blind or live in residential care.

Television licence discount

If you are blind (severely sight impaired) and can provide suitable evidence, you are eligible to apply for a 50 per cent concession.

Your licence will also cover anyone who lives with you. If you are partially sighted (sight impaired), you are not eligible.

Find out more, including how to apply for a blind concession, on the TV Licensing website.

If you live in a care home, you may be able to get a concession on your TV licence. You can find out more on the TV Licensing website.

TV subtitles, audio description and sign language

TV access services are supplied by broadcasters to allow people with hearing and visual impairments access TV content.

The three access services are:

  • subtitles
  • audio description
  • sign language

Ofcom's (Office of Communications) code on television access services sets outs the requirements on subtitling, sign language and audio description that apply to television broadcasters.


Subtitles are transcriptions or translations of dialogue that appear on screen during a film or television broadcast so having a hearing loss doesn’t have to stop you from watching television or DVDs.

Audio description

Like a narrator telling a story, audio description (AD) is an extra commentary describing body language, expressions and movements.

AD gives you information about the things you might not be able to see, meaning you can keep up with the action.

Sign language

This is a language that employs signs made with the hands and other movements, including facial expressions and postures of the body. It is mainly used by people who are deaf.

The BBC website has a dedicated 'Signed' area on its iPlayer, allowing access to signed programmes.

You need a TV Licence to watch or download BBC programmes on demand, including catch up TV, on BBC iPlayer. 

Talking books

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has a large library of talking books. There is a subscription cost for this service. You can find out more by visiting the RNIB website.

Braille, Moon and large print books

The RNIB publishes magazines and other material in Braille and Moon. They include television and radio guides, plus leisure, hobby and lifestyle magazines. Moon is an embossed system of reading which is easier than the more complex Braille system.

Talking newspapers and magazines

Talking Newspapers and Magazines (TNAUK) offers its subscribers a choice of formats for recorded national newspapers and magazines. You can find out more by visiting the TNAUK website.

Some local newspapers also have talking newspapers. Find out more and search for your local talking newspaper on the Talking News Federation website.

Access library services online

If you find it difficult to get to your local library, you can often search the library catalogue and manage your library loans on the Libraries NI website.


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