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BBC launches trial subtitles on iPlayer live streams

The BBC has begun trialling subtitles for live channels on the iPlayer, after previously only being available via on-demand programmes.

The trial, currently available on PC and Mac computers using the Flash version of the BBC Standard Media Player, will allow deaf and hearing-impaired viewers to watch more BBC TV programmes wherever and whenever they want. 

After testing and improving the feature in coming months, subtitles on live streams will be rolled out to other platforms, including iPlayer for mobiles and connected TVs.

Around 20% of on-demand programmes requested from the iPlayer are viewed with subtitles turned on.

Gareth Ford Williams, head of accessibility for the BBC said: 
“The BBC is already a world-leading provider of accessible services– but we know there is always more to do. We want to ensure our content and services are accessible to everyone – and this trial will give viewers who are deaf or hearing-impaired access to even more programming than ever before.”

Dr. Roger Wicks from Action on Hearing Loss said: 
“We welcome this breakthrough from the BBC, which is a huge step in the right direction for full accessibility for people who are deaf or have a hearing loss. Our Subtitle It! campaign has been working towards increasing online broadcasters’ use of subtitles on online content and we’re delighted that the BBC is leading the way by trialling this new feature.”

The trial subtitles are available on those channels that also have an HD version: BBC One (inc. BBC One Scotland, Wales, NI), BBC Two (England), BBC Four, CBBC, CBeebies and BBC News.

In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, viewers wanting to see the trial subtitles on BBC Two must go to BBC Two England, which can be accessed by changing location settings or going direct to