Thursday, November 13, 2014

Comcast launches ‘Talking Guide’ for blind people

From Lost Remote:

Comcast announced a new feature to help the blind and visually impaired better watch television and use the Comcast X1 platform.

The “talking guide” will be released over the next few weeks to Comcast customers. Customers don’t have to download anything or buy new hardware; the feature is available just by tapping the A button twice on the remote control. The “talking guide” is a female voice that reads the guide, with program names, networks, and time slots, as well as On Demand and DVR information. It will also read program information and ratings that Comcast features from Rotten Tomatoes and Common Sense Media. They plan to have search functionality included in future versions of the talking guide.

Comcast hired a Vice President of Audience in 2012, Tom Wlodkowski , to specifically focus on increasing usability for people with disabilities. According to Comcast and the United States Census, about 19 million household include a person with a disability, 8.1 million of those with a visual impairment. Cable companies and Smart TVs are a good place to start innovating for them.

Wlodkowski said in a statement: "The talking guide is as much about usability as it is about accessibility. We think about accessibility from the design of a product all the way through production and this feature is the result of years of work by our team including customer research, focus groups and industry partnerships. For people like me who are blind, this new interface opens up a whole new world of options for watching TV."

You can see how the guide works in this video: