RNIB celebrates accessible coronation coverage

Plans to provide audio description of the coronation mark a first for a live broadcast in the UK, the charity suggested

KY RNIB coronation
Pexels/Karolina Grabowska

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) has worked with the BBC and ITV to ensure live coverage of the Coronation of King Charles III is accessible to people with sight loss in the UK.

In what the RNIB described as a “television first in the UK,” ITV will provide live audio description (AD) on their coverage of the coronation, “something that’s never been done before,” the charity suggested.

The BBC will also be providing a separate, bespoke accessible commentary for audiences who are blind or partially sighted through the red button function.

Sonali Rai, broadcast and audio description manager at RNIB, explained: “In the UK, audio description has never been delivered on live content before so this is a fantastic development and one which sets a clear precedent of how TV can unite audiences and embrace inclusivity.”

ITV coverage will start at 11am on Saturday 6 May and viewers will be able to switch on audio description by pressing the AD button on the remote control.

David Padmore, director of accessibility at ITV, commented: “This is a historic occasion for us at ITV, not only because it is the first coronation we have televised, but also because it will be our most accessible live broadcast event to date.”

Coverage of the ceremony will include live audio description on ITV1 and live British Sign Language translation on ITV3, as well as subtitling on all Coronation programming.

BBC coverage will begin at 7:30am on BBC One, BBC Two and iPlayer, with accessible commentary beginning at 9am.

Through the red button on BBC one, viewers can find a special programme of enhanced commentary, presented by Petroc Trelawny, the British classical music radio and television broadcaster and presenter on BBC Radio 3. Signed coverage will also be available on BBC Two.

Trelawny explained that commentary will cover key information, including who is marching, what the choir is singing, the history of the occasion, and the names of foreign heads of state and King’s guests.

“We will be on air for nearly six hours, and we hope our marathon broadcast will extend the tradition of ensuring that the coronation can be enjoyed by the widest possible audience,” he said.