US cable company launches talking TV guide

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Monday, 7 September 2015 13:07pm

The cable television company Comcast has added a ‘talking guide’ to its new X1 set-top box, allowing blind and vision impaired viewers to easily find content.

"A" hot button highlighted on X1 remote. Image credit: Comcast

The ‘talking guide’, which features a female voice, reads out program titles and other information, network names, time slots and settings. It will be made available to all Comcast customers in the next few weeks.

"The talking guide feature will enable all of our customers to experience the X1 platform in a new way,” said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement, “ and give our blind and visually impaired customers the freedom to independently explore and navigate thousands of shows and movies."

The accessibility of electronic program guides (EPGs) is an issue which is increasingly being dealt with by communications regulators around the world. Earlier this year, the UK regulator Ofcom issued a consultation paper outlining changes it is proposing to make EPGs accessible, including a requirement that they have a text-to-speech function.

In 2013, Media Access Australia produced a report, ‘Electronic Program Guides and Accessibility’, which noted that Australian EPGs often fail to indicate which programs have captions, and evaluated their usability with a screen reader. It can be downloaded from our Electronic Program Guides page.

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