PVRs: How to buy the best PVR Subtitles, audio description and signing 

TV subtitles

Subtitles can be used on both live TV and recordings


Subtitles for people with a visual impairment are transmitted on digital TV and a PVR will automatically record them. They can be switched on or off while watching either a live or recorded program using the remote control.

Subtitling obligations have been extended to many channels, whether they are broadcast by digital terrestrial or digital satellite signals. Currently, most channels are ahead of the targets set for them.

Audio description feature

Audio description 

Audio description is an additional narrative audio track for visually impaired people that describes what is happening on screen. This could be changes of location, actions, facial expressions, gestures and so on to give the context and set the scene. 

Descriptions are fitted between dialogue or commentary to avoid interrupting the flow of the programme.

It’s found on many Freeview programmes and many new integrated digital TVs can decode the signal. Audio description is also available on some DVDs and videos. 

There are two methods of receiving audio description. The description can be carried on the same channel as the original programme, or it can be broadcast on a second sound channel which contains the audio description. 

The latter system allows more flexibility as one person can listen on headphones whilst others watch the programme without audio description. It is also possible to change the volume of the original programme and the audio description soundtrack independently.

Go to our PVR reviews to find out which PVRs support audio description. 

Signing on TV

Some TV shows are also broadcast with signing

Sign language 

The Communications Act 2003 requires broadcasters to meet the legal requirements either by programmes being translated into sign language or programmes being made by or for deaf people and presented in sign language.

The target is for 5% of programmes to be signed using the same target dates as subtitles.

For more advice on subtitles, audio description and signing visit the Gov.UK website.

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