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Study examines how television can be improved for deaf children

BBC Broadcast together with The National Deaf Children’s Society (NDCS) has begun a joint study into how subtitles (closed captions) and sign-language on children’s television programmes could be improved.
The research follows Ofcom’s announcement last year advising that more broadcasters would be required to provide an increased number of programmes that are accessible to deaf and hard of hearing people under the 2004 Ofcom Code on Television Access Services. There are now around 70 channels that are regulated and are required to comply with these regulations.
Ruth Griffiths, Director of Access Services at BBC Broadcast, said: "We provide a significant part of the broadcast industry with subtitles, sign-language and audio-description and wanted to make sure that our clients receive the maximum return on their investment. The results from the study will also be made available to Ofcom to ensure our research has the best effect on the industry as possible."
Chief Executive of the NDCS, Susan Daniels, added: "Very little research has been carried out that looks at access to television programmes for deaf children and young people, and yet it is an area of considerable growth and means deaf children get the chance to enjoy television as much as their hearing friends and siblings. This study is a welcome initiative and we hope it will enable us to better understand the needs of deaf children and encourage broadcasters to make any improvements needed."
The NDCS will draw on its relationships with deaf children, their families and carers as well as links with mainstream schools to distribute a survey and conduct focus groups. BBC Broadcast will work with NDCS to analyse the results and then determine how access services can be improved.
The study, the first study of its kind, will also examine the benefits of these services for deaf and hearing viewers and the findings are due to be released later this year.
Every year around 840 babies are born deaf in the UK, meaning around 1 in 1,000 children are born with a severe/profound hearing loss.
Enhancing television output for people with hearing and vision difficulties, subtitles (closed captions), sign-language and audio description can assist with the viewing experience.
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