Michelle, on being part of the Beta Community
My part in the launch of subtitles on demand at Sky
As a deaf viewer who relies entirely on subtitles when watching any kind of TV show, I witnessed our accessible TV go backwards as the development of technology introduced the wonders of Catch Up and On Demand. Watching shows increased on a huge scale for the majority but sadly deaf viewers were excluded. Happily, in response to our repeated requests for subtitles, Sky announced their intentions to start enabling accessibility features to their on-demand shows, and I was delighted to accept an invitation to join their subtitles trial.
Seeing “behind the scenes” as it were, I was able to witness how the issue was seen by Sky and was so pleased to see and feel that it was being taken seriously. I have been a part of the trial for nearly a year now and during that time I have engaged with Sky staff and with other Sky customers who are hard of hearing – all of whom were very interested and keen to seek feedback but perhaps more importantly, act on it. My views and feedback have been taken on board and I am confident that this first installment of subtitled shows will lead to far more. Since then, Sky Cinema has added thousands of movies and box sets, with more to come.
Every bit as important as watching TV is being able to contact Sky (or indeed any organisation). It is very easy to contact Sky and receive advice and support, and I have often used their live chat option on their website, as well as their social network platforms, to resolve various technical issues I have had – it is a great feeling being able to do this independently and without relying on others.
It is now much more feasible for deaf viewers to consider joining Sky, or to upgrade their subscriptions to include Sky Cinema and thus become part of the wider digital audience –and more importantly, socialise with friends and family and watch what we want, when we want!