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Comcast X1 box now offers ‘talking guide’ for the blind

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, November 12, 2014 2:35 p.m

Comcast has introduced a “talking guide” for its X1 operating system that helps blind and visually impaired viewers get through the channel-selection process.

It is free and will be available in the next few weeks on any X1 set-top box, without a visit from a technician or any call to the cable TV provider.

“It is another step at building the smart home for everyone,” says Tom Wlodkowski, vice president for accessibility.

Officially known as the voice-guidance system, the addition to X1 talks a user through channel listings. A voice reads titles, times of broadcasts — and remaining time on already-begun programs — ratings on movies and brief descriptions.

The user goes through times and channels by manipulating the arrow buttons on the remote control.

Wlodkowski says users can be get an orientation on remote-control buttons through a lesson program also available on the X1 box.

One of the basic aspects of that orientation is the tactile definition of button location, Wlodkowski says. Those spots are placed by relating them to other areas on the remote control, he says. For example, one might be located as “two rows below the top left button.”

Such directions are part of the orientation program, he says.

The voice-guidance system is the opposite of the currently available X1 Remote App for iOS and Android systems. In that app, a user with arthritis or other physical problems can talk the set-top box through selections by asking for programs, types of shows, channels and other areas of choice.

The X1 system was introduced in January, offering cable customers a variety of ways of viewing, controlling and programming their cable TV use on home devices and portable ones.

Bob Karlovits is staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at bkarlovits@tribweb.com or 412-320-7852.

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