Most TV channels have subtitles. Where they are available, you can usually get them by pressing the subtitles button on your remote control, or by pressing the menu button and following the options for language and subtitles.
However, the availability of subtitles can vary when you watch on-demand TV.
Most of the UK’s main broadcasters have an on-demand TV service:
On-demand TV lets you watch what you like, when you like, over the internet. You can catch up with programmes and films you’ve missed, watch entire seasons of your favourite shows, and watch programmes at the time they are broadcast through a live TV stream over the internet.
You can access these on-demand services in different ways:
- through the TV channel’s website
- by downloading free apps from Google Play or the App Store onto your smartphone or tablet device
- through platforms such as YouView and Now TV.
BBC iPlayer has subtitles available on almost all of its programmes, no matter how you access the service.
The other on-demand services have subtitles available on around 70% to 85% of programmes when you watch through a service's website or app. But subtitles may not be available when you watch these on-demand services through other platforms.
Subtitles are now available on most BBC iPlayer live streams but not, currently, on other channels' live streams.
On-demand subscription services
For a monthly fee (subscription), you can watch a wide range of films and TV programmes online through on-demand services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Now TV.
Before signing up for any of these services, check whether they have subtitles – not all of them do. Many Netflix programmes are subtitled, as are more than half of the programmes on Amazon services.
Problems with subtitles or background noise?
If you find it hard to follow a TV programme because of background noise or music within the programme, or if the subtitles are poor quality, Action on Hearing Loss recommend you let the channel know, giving the date and time that the programme was broadcast. They have a guide on how to write a complaint letter and where to send it, visit actiononhearingloss.org.uk/writeacomplaint
Assistive listening devices for watching TV
If you have to turn up the volume on your TV so loud that it disturbs your family, or you find you're sitting closer and closer to the TV, there are assistive listening devices that allow you to turn down the volume for others, while making it louder and clearer for yourself.
The products include:
- Wireless headphones – these let you listen at a volume that's suitable for you.
- TV listeners – these either come with a neckloop for hearing aid users, or stethoset earbuds for people who don’t use hearing aids.
- Home hearing loop systems – a loop system can help you hear the TV more clearly through your hearing aids when they’re on the loop (or 'T') setting.
- TV streamers – these small devices send sound from the TV to your hearing aids and allow you to further adjust the volume and pitch of the sound to your preference. You may need to use an intermediary device for the wireless connection.
- Remote microphones – you can place a small microphone close to your TV’s loudspeaker and it will pick up the sound and send it straight to your hearing aids.