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article imageComcast launches talking TV interface for the blind

By Robert Kingett     Nov 12, 2014 in Entertainment
Philadelphia - In the U.S., TV accessibility for those who are blind and visually impaired is far behind in advances, compared to other countries, such as the UK. Today, however, Comcast is taking the first step to an accessible future
There is a new interface to the Xfinity line of products that makes TV completely accessible to the blind and the visually impaired. It is called the X1, the latest in the Xfinity set top box platform.
The new model will have a built-in talking guide that will read everything on the screen in the speech synthesizer known as VW Kate in the blind community.
The talking guide speaks what’s on the screen as the viewer navigates the “Guide,” “Saved,” “On Demand,” and “Settings” sections of X1 and includes details like individual program descriptions and ratings from Common Sense Media and Rotten Tomatoes that help viewers decide what to watch. Future versions of the feature will include functionality within the “Search” section of X1 and additional personalization settings like rate of speech and changing the voice.
“talking guide” features one voice, at this time, Kate, who reads aloud selections like program titles, network names and time slots as well as DVR and On Demand settings.
They made it simple for visually impaired users to enable voice guidance by assigning it to the "A" hot button on the X1 remote, which is also fully accessible with distinctive buttons and an easy to see button layout. The remote is a gray color and all of the buttons have a distinct color, Icon, size, and shape.
To activate the talking menu, according to their website, Click "A" to open X1's help menu. With the help menu open, click "A" once again to access the Voice Guidance shortcut. Arrow right then press "OK" on your remote to toggle on X1's talking guide. This is also the fastest way to disable Voice Guidance), according to the website.
Comcast added a new  Accessibility Settings  section to the X1 remote setting menu where users can a...
Comcast added a new "Accessibility Settings" section to the X1 remote setting menu where users can access X1's full slate of accessibility enhancements
When it's activated sighted users will observe an on-screen notification. All users will immediately begin to hear channel names, TV show and movie titles and DVR commands read aloud.
Aside from maneuvering the remote users can also activate it and other settings in the menus. According to the screenshots on their website, the menus look to be in high contrast mode and have nicely large letters.
X1's "Accessibility Settings" is the place to control the platform's full offering of enhancements for visual and hearing impaired users, including Voice Guidance. Arrow down to Voice Guidance to toggle the feature on and off.
More about Blindness, Cable, Accessibility, TV hardware, Fcc
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