One of the biggest problems with using digital cable or satellite TV when you’re blind is that you can’t use any of the really cool features. Yeah you’ve got a gazillion stations, but if you can’t use the guide to figure out what’s on them or even where they are, it adds a degree of difficulty to things that most folks don’t have. We can’t use on demand either, which in a way is good because it saves us money, but also sucks because it’s a neat technology that I’d like to be able to take advantage of.
But slowly, some of this might be starting to change.
Panasonic has just announced that they’ll be rolling out a line of televisions that come with text to speech capabilities.
According to Panasonic’s Nigel Prankard, users will be able to obtain channel information, browse the user guide, and use the built-in electronic program guide among other features. Prankard explained that the company felt it was the right time to include accessibility features and that Panasonic planned to include it in all models, stating that a user shouldn’t be limited in the choice of a television by which ones included accessibility features.
For now it seems to be something the company is doing in the UK market, but hopefully the rest of us will have it soon.
This is what you call a mighty fine start. Now let’s hope that other manufacturers follow suit and that before too long, the need to search out usable TV listings on a site by site basis will be no more.