Accessibility on TV


2 min read

There are all these rules for accessibility on websites, which admittedly most sites don't follow, but theoretically they should. However that's not the case on TV.

Last week's Doctor Who Dot and Bubble was a case in point. The main character spends her time in a literal social media bubble. It goes around her head so she can't see the real world. In the background are rectangles with various people in. In the foreground are rectangles of whoever she's talking to.

The bubble in question

That all sounds fine right? Now what if I tell you the background images constantly move around the bubble. From the perspective of the person looking at them, the background moves from one side of your vision to the other. Constantly. At a constant speed.

If you have a vestibular problem that is probably the worst Doctor Who episode to attempt to watch. Every time we saw that background moving I was distracted thinking about people who had to give up on the episode because it made them too ill.

And if that existed in real life, surely the constantly moving background would make you feel travel sick? The minute you turn it off you wouldn't be able to walk in a straight line. And if you tried standing up you'd end up leaning to one side.

There are warnings on TV before episodes, like for flashing images for example. But no one warns for a lot of motion. They should, though. Accessibility should apply to TV. I'd like to be able to turn off motion on my TV and watch the version where the background rectangles stay where they are. Then I could concentrate on the episode itself. And maybe I'd have enjoyed it more.