RTÉ Access Services

RTÉ is committed to the provision of Access Services across a range of content and genres.  

RTÉ is regulated in its delivery of Access Services by Coimisiún na Meán.  Click here for BAI’s Access Rules 2019.  

The Broadcasting Act 2009 makes a number of provisions in respect of rules to be made by Coimisiún na Meán to promote the understanding and enjoyment of programmes by persons who are deaf or hard of hearing, persons who are blind or partially sighted and persons who are hard of hearing and are partially sighted.  

Ensuring the quality of our Access Services is hugely important to RTÉ. As part of his role as point of contact for representative groups and overseeing RTÉ’s policy and strategy for Access Services, RTÉ’s Head of Access, Kevin Burns convenes an annual meeting with a number of representative groups which is supported by a number of off site visits and feedback sessions around key issues.  

RTÉ provides Access Services in the following ways:  

  • Subtitles 
  • Audio Description 
  • Irish Sign Language (ISL)

If you have any feedback regarding accessing subtitles, audio description or Irish Sign Language (ISL) on RTÉ One, RTÉ Two, RTÉ One + One, RTÉjr, RTÉ News Now, then you can contact RTÉ Access Services on accessfeedback@rte.ie 


Subtitling provides a transcript of a programme soundtrack.  Subtitles normally appear at the bottom of the screen, in time with the programme.  For some programmes such as sport, subtitles may appear at the top of screen so as not to obscure the score.  

RTÉ offers an unrivalled subtitling service to Irish audiences, with approximately 95% of programmes on RTÉ One and RTÉ2 subtitled during peak hours.  

Subtitles can be selected as an option on your device.  

On RTÉ Player, closed caption subtitles are available on most of the content broadcast on RTÉ One and RTÉ2, and on many of our Box Sets and exclusive series. You can enable captions by default in your preferences if you’re signed in to RTÉ ID. You can also activate it on an episode-by-episode basis without signing in to RTÉ ID, by selecting the ‘Speech’ icon in the video player.  

Where you view RTÉ Content

In some instances the same programme can have a different standard of subtitling depending on the platform provider. With this in mind, CnaM has developed a pilot programme with broadcasters and platform providers to share information about user experience of subtitling which can be recorded and forwarded to the provider in the best position to resolve them. RTÉ content can be viewed through a number platforms which are all regulated by CnaM; these include Sky, Virgin, Saorview and Eir. If you have specific feedback about a programme on the channels listed above in CnaM Access Rules, fill out this form giving details of which channel the programme was on, how you viewed the programme and through which provider, for example on Virgin, Sky, Eir, Vodafone or Saorview.  

The form will require some personal information to allow the broadcaster contact the viewer for further information. In line with GDPR requirements, this information will only be used for this complaint and will be deleted afterwards.    

Audio Description  

RTÉ provides Audio Description for blind and visually impaired viewers.  The Audio Description (AD) track provides additional dialogue where gaps occur in the programme dialogue.  AD explains what is happening on screen, by describing scene changes, gestures, facial expressions, actions, etc.  

On RTÉ Player, AD is available on some titles as an alternative audio track option. You can also activate it on an episode-by-episode basis without signing in to RTÉ ID, by selecting the ‘Speech’ icon in the video player.  

Irish Sign Language  

Irish Sign Language (ISL) is the indigenous language of the deaf community in Ireland. The Irish Sign Language Act was signed into law by President Michael D. Higgins on 24th December, 2017.  

Signing is presented either through the use of an interpreter within the programme or through the use of an interpreter superimposed in the corner of the screen.  

RTÉ provides ISL service across a range of genres.  RTÉ has a dedicated ISL sign zone on RTÉ2 on Tuesdays (between 3.5 – 4 hours) as well as the existing sign zone on RTÉ One on Wednesdays. There has also been an increase in ISL output for young people, with new Irish Children’s series Wild Kids and Drop Dead Weird, on RTÉ Junior and RTÉ2. This means that ISL is now available on RTÉ One and RTÉ2 every day.  

RTÉ Player hosts a range of ISL titles. These feature an on-screen signer. To enable this functionality, you need to be signed in to your RTÉ ID. Once signed in, go to your user preferences and select – Settings > Irish Sign Language.  

You contact the RTÉ Player team with any further queries through our Help section here.

For general queries about access to RTÉ’s services, please contact RTÉ’s Information Office on (01) 2083434 or at info@rte.ie.