By Chris Morran
November 12, 2014
Fifteen months ago, we told you that Comcast was developing a talking version of its TV listings for use by visually impaired subscribers. Today, the company announced that it will be introducing the feature to users on its X1 platform.
The speaking guide will be available to all X1 users and will be rolling out over the coming weeks. It reads aloud information including titles, network, date/time, and ratings from Rotten Tomatoes for live TV programming, recorded content and on-demand offerings.
Comcast says the feature can be turned on by pressing the “A” button (that’s the yellow triangle button) twice on your remote and choosing to “Turn on Voice Guidance.” This option is also available under “Accessibility Settings” in the general settings menu.
“Programming my DVR is one of the most empowering things I have ever done with my TV,” said Eric Bridges of the American Council of the Blind, who was part of the pre-launch test group for the service. “My wife and I are both blind, so thanks to this new feature, we no longer have to choose between going out to dinner or catching our favorite show. The talking guide encourages independence and self-sufficiency; it’s a real game-changer for anyone who is blind and loves TV.”
Comcast says that while the talking guide is intended to help the more than 8 million Americans with visual disabilities, the company believes that some sighted subscribers may find the service useful.
“The talking guide is as much about usability as it is about accessibility,” explains Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast VP of Audience, in a statement. “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.