Sony has started a new campaign to get more TV manufacturers and broadcasters involved in making services for the blind. The majority of consumers have embraced and benefited from the increase in services, channels and programmes provided by today's digital broadcasters. But many visually impaired people are unable to take advantage of these benefits.

And yet the technology exists for them to enjoy TV programming as much as those that can see.

"We are all used to seeing and using subtitles on TV, but what many people don't know is that the technology exists to make a similarly useful service available for the 30 million or so visually impaired people we have in Europe," says Andreas Ditter, vice president of Sony TV Operations Europe.

"The entire Sony Bravia television range now provides access to Audio Description (AD) as standard which, in combination with a commitment to raise awareness of AD, aims to increase the number of programmes, broadcasters and television manufacturers that offer the service."

Television for the blind

Audio Description (AD) is an additional narrative soundtrack for blind or partially sighted people. During gaps in programme dialogue, an additional voice explains visual plot points, enabling visually impaired people to follow the storyline more fully.

Audio description is available on a variety of television programmes throughout the UK and Europe. But until now it has only been accessible through the purchase of a separate set-top box or satellite receiver.

Now, all Sony Bravia TVs will include Integrated Digital Television (IDTV) as standard, and provide access to AD without the need for an additional decoder. Sony says that other manufacturers should follow suit.