Almost everyone has used subtitles on their television sets throughout their life. Whether you’re trying to watch your favourite show while your friends are conversing away or if you’ve temporarily lost sound, subtitles are an integral part of television.
In fact, many people prefer to watch shows with subtitles on as they can ensure that they hear speech correctly and don’t miss any whispered conversations. Others enjoy taking advantage of subtitles while listening to music channels and singalong with the lyrics.
But while subtitles may be a rarity for most of us, some are forced to watch television with subtitles every day of their lives – even for simple tasks, such as watching the weather forecast. Despite the clear need for excellent, high-quality subtitling, some programmes have slow subtitles and miss sections out while other shows are still without subtitles.
We’ve taken a look at the huge need for subtitles to be improved and have considered whether the television broadcasters must do more to cater for those who are hearing-impaired in order to provide a high-quality service for those who need subtitles to watch their favourite shows.
In July, we wrote an article on Sky’s promise to ensure that all customers would be able to watch the most popular on demand content with subtitles on. Sky broadcasts a number of popular shows, including An Idiot Abroad, Fortitude, Boardwalk Empire and Mad Men.
They also show some of the epic American television programmes, with the likes of Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead available on demand. However, it is usually the most popular shows that are left without subtitles. Many people have voiced their opinions on the matter and there are even petitions demanding that Sky improve their Sky Go and on demand subtitling features.
Come on SkyTV! How many more years will it take for you to enable subtitles for OnDemand services such as NowTV? https://t.co/WSxuHo1bpk
— Nest Wireless (@Nest_Wireless) July 26, 2015
Now, while those who partially hearing-impaired are able to use hearing aid devices, such as those developed by Hidden Hearing, others aren’t as fortunate and most television broadcasters must ensure that they accommodate for this audience.
The likes of Sky, BBC and ITV must ensure that, while they cannot provide a sign language expert for every television show, that the subtitling is accurate, quick and available. While subtitles are accurate on the most part, there are some discrepancies on a daily basis.
Sky have revealed that they currently offer subtitles on over 90 per cent of live television, while they provide thousands of hours of subtitles on Sky Go and their on demand content. While they are always looking to improve these figures, it is crucial that broadcasters can secure subtitles on every single show that is shown on our television screens.
Until 100 per cent of television shows can provide either subtitles or a signer, the broadcasters will always be trying to win over those who are disadvantaged and unable to reap the benefits of Sky’s most popular television shows.