There are many TVs available with accessibility functions to help you to continue watching the programmes and films you love. If watching television is becoming uncomfortable, the following tips and information may help you.
In the first instance, it may help to sit closer to the TV. By halving the distance, you’re creating 2x magnification. Facing the screen directly can place your worst vision in front of the screen, so if one eye is better than the other, try turning your chair about 45 degrees so you are able to look at the screen with your better eye. To reduce glare, try positioning the TV away from windows and lamps.
Large-screen, high-definition (HD) TVs may benefit you and a backlit LCD model may offer more clarity. There are a range of TVs available with good accessibility features.
Most new Samsung TVs have a built-in speech function called Voice Guide. Voice Guide enables the television to read on-screen text back to you and provides verbal feedback about the selected volume, current channel and programme information. There is also a high-contrast mode which configures the TV to display all menus with a black background and white or yellow text.
Apple TV is a small box that connects to your normal TV giving you access to TV catch-up apps and video on demand services, but not standard broadcast TV. It has a built-in screen reader called VoiceOver that tells you exactly what's on your screen and helps you choose commands. You can also increase contrast, zoom in up to 15 times the native size using the built-in magnifier, and make on-screen text bold so it's easier to see.
MaxTV glasses have two individually adjustable lenses on standard frames, and could allow you to sit a more comfortable distance from the TV screen. MaxTV glasses are available to buy from some low vision clinics. Not everyone will find them useful, so do try before buying.
Some TV programmes offer an accompanying audio description. The BBC currently provides this for 20% of their schedule. This narration is additional to the programme’s original soundtrack and provides a verbal description of the visual content. Typically it will describe scenery, a character’s appearance or facial expression, and what is going on in the scene.
Our Tech Talk volunteers can help you with smartphones, tablets and computers through email or telephone support. Call the Advice and Information Service on 0300 3030 111