Marking his second anniversary as FCC Chairman, Tom Wheeler penned a blog post reflecting on the many initiatives that lie before him. Among them, he recognized the work that needs to be continued to create accessible technology for Americans who are blind or low-vision that will allow them to access video content:
“Thanks to FCC rules, video devices with ‘talking menus’ and ‘talking guides’ will be available to consumers by December of next year, and these devices will dramatically simplify the ability of individuals who are blind and visually impaired to view television programming. At our November meeting, we will take further steps to ensure that individuals who are blind or visually impaired can more easily access video programming on the increasing number of devices used to view video programming. In particular, our new rules would require covered manufacturers and MVPDs to inform consumers about which accessible devices and features are available and how to use them.”
Earlier in 2015, Comcast launched their Emily’s Oz campaign to promote their X1 Talking Guide, the very type of assisitive technology that Chairman Wheeler is referring to. The X1 Talking Guide is available in both English and Spanish an can be used to turn on video description.
He noted that the FCC would be taking additional steps to ensure that consumers who are deaf and hard of hearing can more easily activate closed captioning features.