I just recently upgraded my Comcast package to include cable TV. In the past I was using a converter box and only able to access my local TV channels. But with cable I not only get more channels to watch but more access to audio description. For those that might not be aware audio descriptions are short verbal explanations of action or scenes in the program. For example the description might give information on facial expressions, body movements or the actor’s clothing. These Descriptions are inserted between pauses in the dialogue and give context to what is happening in the program.
Audio description on TV has greatly enhanced my viewing pleasure because I can keep up with what is happening without having to guess or ask a sighted person what is going on. But, the downside was that I had to get sighted help to set up the initial audio description because the settings options show up on the screen which I can’t see. Now that I have that done I can access the programming independently. In addition, since I have so many cable channels now, I had my favorite shows placed in the favorites section so then I just scroll through that instead of the numerous stations available.
Today, Comcast has taken my viewing pleasure a notch higher by offering an audio TV guide. According to a recent press release “Comcast announced the industry’s first voice-enabled television user interface, a solution that will revolutionize the way its Xfinity TV customers, especially those who are blind or visually impaired, navigate the X1 platform. The "talking guide" features a female voice that reads aloud selections like program titles, network names and time slots as well as DVR and On Demand settings.” This new feature is available now and I can’t wait to access it.
I was happy to hear that Comcast is setting an even higher bar with this new feature. Comcast has been responding to requirements in a law known as the Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA). Since the requirements for accessible set-top boxes don't start until December 2016, Comcast is way ahead of the game.
For more information on this new feature or just about audio description in general contact Comcast Accessibility Center for Excellence at 855-270-0379. You can also read an article about Comcast accessibility features in the American Foundation for the Blind’s Access World Magazine.