Podcast: Comcast crafts accessibility features for Xfinity X15/20/2021
Tom Wlodkowski, VP of accessibility for Comcast, joins the podcast to share how he got started in the accessibility field, and explains the evolution of Comcast's Voice Guidance system on Xfinity X1 and the development of the Xfinity X1 Adaptive Remote.
"In 2014, we launched the industry's first accessible set-top box experience for people who are blind or visual impaired on our X1 platform and we called that Service Voice Guidance. Think of it as a screen reader inside of a box, even though it's in the cloud because X1 is all cloud-based," says Wlodkowski. "Voice guidance, once it's enabled, reads all of the UI (user interface) elements as you navigate with the remote control using the D-pad (directional pad)."
Previously, visually impaired users were limited to scrolling up and down on channels, and features that most people take for granted were inaccessible to them, adds Wlodkowski. The Voice Guidance capability provides visually impaired users with the ability to now "navigate TV listings, schedule and play back DVR recordings, navigate on-demand content and control settings such as parental controls," explains Wlodkowski.
The end result of adding more accessibility features to content platforms extends beyond those with disabilities, says Wlodkowski. Closed captioning is one feature that everyone can benefit from, such as when an actor is difficult to understand or sound mixing muddles dialogue.
"When you build an inclusive product, you end up building a better product for everyone," says Wlodkowski.
— Kelsey Kusterer Ziser, Senior Editor, Light Reading