Comcast debuted its new Spanish “Talking Guide” feature at a luncheon Thursday at the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.
The Talking Guide helps blind users navigate their televisions by reading channel information and menu options and allowing users to make selections with distinctly shaped buttons on their remote controls. The company released an English version of the guide last year.
Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast’s vice president of accessibility, led the development of the Talking Guide. Wlodkowski is blind, and he said the feature “opens up the TV-viewing experience” for the visually impaired. “It’s really not that difficult to record a show on your DVR, but if you were blind you couldn’t do it,” he explained.
Bill Rivera coordinates computer training and technology for Miami Lighthouse, a nonprofit that helps the visually impaired. His team has been testing the Talking Guide. According to Rivera, users report having a positive experience so far. “They found that it is intuitive--it’s as easy as just using the remote, switching channels and listening to what the feedback is from the guide,” Rivera said, “So they’re able to pretty much view television just like any sighted person would.”
However, Rivera notes that the guide’s Spanish still needs work. “The accented vowels need to be pronounced more and words need to be translated into Spanish so it wouldn’t be read like Spanglish,” he added.
Both the English and Spanish Talking Guides are still in beta-phase and can be accessed through the X1 box. Comcast expects the Spanish guide to reach more than 6 million viewers.