Love Island doesn’t offer audio description despite having a visually impaired contestant

ITV has said it does not have the ‘technical capability for audio description’

Claire Sisk, a blind woman who welcomes positive visual representation, has said that Love Island isn’t accessible for its audience due to the show not including audio description. Ron Hall made history as Love Island’s first ever visually impaired contestant, however the TV show itself does not include audio description.

Audio description is when key visual elements that can’t be picked up by audio alone are explained. These can be things like facial expressions or movements. This function, which is beneficial to those who are visually impaired, has not been added to the ITV series. ITV told The Tab that due to the “daily production of Love Island”, it doesn’t have the “technical capability for audio description.”

Claire Sisk is registered as blind and has admitted she feels left out as she can only watch the show if someone sits and watches it with her to describe the actions of the Islander. She said it has made her realise the world “isn’t designed for her”.

Love Island audio description

via SWNS

Speaking about Ron being on the show, Claire said: “Personally I think it’s great that there is this representation on such a huge show. It’s highlighting and raising awareness of visual impairment. But as an audience member, it’s not audio described. I have to watch it with someone for them to tell me what’s going on.

“It’s frustrating because I don’t know yet whose voice belongs to who, it’s such a shame because we want to ‘yay’ for the blind community to make the effort to support him. I feel excluded from work conversations and it’s just another reminder I’m living in a world that isn’t designed for me.”

Love Island audio description

via ITV

Ron has opened up about how he lost his sight at just eight years old. When he was playing football, he went in for a header and was kicked in the face by another footballer and after multiple surgeries he became blind in one eye. Julie Tobin, the Deputy Chief Executive of British Wireless for the Blind Fund, recently told The Tab that having someone like Ron on Love Island “is a step towards a more inclusive society.”

A spokesperson for ITV told The Tab: “The nature of a daily production like Love Island means that we unfortunately don’t have the ability currently to provide audio description. We don’t receive a finished version of the programme until after transmission  – which is why we do the subtitling live. And although we can provide subtitles live, we don’t yet have that technical capability for audio description.

“We have been working with the Love Island team to ensure that the social media communications, primarily on Instagram, but also via Twitter and Facebook, carry alternative text for any images used. We are also looking at how we could make programmes like Love Island inherently more accessible. There is actually very little space within Love Island to add traditional audio description, as the time is largely filled with contestants or the narrator speaking. However, by adapting the commentary style to be more aware of conveying visual information that is otherwise not made explicit, we could improve the accessibility of the show.

“We currently provide audio description for around 35 per cent of programmes broadcast on ITV’s linear channels, well ahead of Ofcom’s target of 10 per cent, and ahead of ITV’s public commitment to 20 per cent. On our new streaming service, ITVX, audio description is available for over 20 per cent of programmes at launch, including all new ITV drama and lots of BritBox content, with platforms prioritised in consultation with the RNIB. Audio description currently works on the mobile apps, Amazon Fire, Apple TV, Samsung TVs, Chromecast (iOS only) and Sky Glass.

“ITV teams are working now on browsers and the remaining connected TV platforms, and we hope to make AD available on these in the first half of 2023. We are also working on significant user experience improvements within ITVX, for example to make sure that the platform works well with all assistive technology, such as screen readers. We have an ambition to be the UK’s most accessible streaming service, and we are committed to putting greater accessibility at the heart of ITVX.”

Love Island 2023 continues at 9pm on ITV2 and ITVX. For all the latest Love Island news and gossip and for the best memes and quizzes, like The Holy Church of Love Island on Facebook.

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Featured image credit via ITV.

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