[nfb-talk] FYI Comcast's talking Program Guide/Article fromPhiladelphia Inquirer

d m gina dmgina at samobile.net
Thu Aug 29 14:05:32 UTC 2013

That was well done, I would love to know the movies out there at any time.

Original message:
> Well, I can tell you as a matter of fact that it will come out, at 
> least as early as next year.  Maybe sooner but not sure. Below, is the 
> link to the video again.

> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNTL-3fj6HI
> Sent from my mac, the only computer with full accessibility for the 
> blind built-in!
> Sincerely,
> The Constantly Barefooted Ray
> Still a very proud and happy Mac and Iphone user!

> On Aug 29, 2013, at 5:05 AM, "Sherri" <flmom2006 at gmail.com> wrote:

>> This is great and very interesting! I will be a comcast subscriber for sure
>> if this comes out.

>> Sherri
>> ----- Original Message -----
>> From: "Michael Hingson" <info at michaelhingson.com>
>> To: "'NFB Talk Mailing List'" <nfb-talk at nfbnet.org>; "'Research and
>> Development Committee (appointed)'" <nfb-rdcomm at nfbcal.org>;
>> <nfbc-info at nfbnet.org>; <nfbnet-members-list at nfbnet.org>
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 3:55 PM
>> Subject: [nfb-talk] FYI Comcast's talking Program Guide/Article
>> fromPhiladelphia Inquirer

>> Blind Comcast exec developing a talking TV channel guide

>> Comcast Corp. has hired a sight-challenged executive, Tom Wlodskowski, Vice
>> President/Accessibility, to develop a "talking TV interface" for the blind
>> and other accessible products for the disabled. The talking TV guide could
>> be out in 2014 as part of X2 channel guide and available for everyone.  (
>> CHARLES FOX / Staff Photographer )

>> Bob Fernandez, Inquirer Staff Writer

>> POSTED: Wednesday, August 28, 2013, 1:08 AM

>> www.inquirer.com

>> How does a blind person find what to "watch" on a TV with 200 channels and
>> 46,000 video-on-demand choices of movies, shows, and clips? Tom Wlodkowski,
>> a blind executive at Comcast Corp., thinks he has the answer: a talking TV
>> channel guide.

>> No joke.

>> "The television is not strictly as visual a medium as you might think," said
>> David Goldfield, a computer technology instructor at the Associated Services
>> for the Blind and Visually Impaired. "Radio drama in the U.S. is more or
>> less dead. If you are blind and you want a good story, you're still going to
>> get it on television."

>> Comcast expects the talking guide to come with its next-generation X2
>> platform in 2014. The cable giant demonstrated the talking guide this year
>> at a California technology conference and at the cable-TV-industry trade
>> show in Washington.

>> Comcast also market-tested the guide with 20 average-Joe-type sight-impaired
>> individuals in Philadelphia, arranged by the Associated Services for the
>> Blind and Visually Impaired.

>> The interactive, cloud-based guide - the current voice is a woman, but users
>> eventually could choose the voice, as they can with a ring tone - responds
>> to buttons the person pushes.

>> This is part of a year-old project at Comcast to make the company's products
>> more accessible to customers with disabilities. Wlodkowski has an
>> "accessibility" team and will soon have a lab in the Comcast Center.

>> Comcast isn't doing this just to reach out to the nation's 1.3 million blind
>> individuals who fear being left behind as popular culture and media go
>> digital on the Internet and TV.

>> The Twenty-First Century Communications and Accessibility Act of 2010,
>> passed on the 20-year anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, is
>> forcing technology companies to integrate accessibility functions into
>> products. It's believed that, in three years, talking interfaces will have
>> to come with TV products.

>> Wlodkowski thinks he also can drive business. People with disabilities
>> account for $200 billion in discretionary spending power, and catering to
>> their needs, he believes, can boost brand loyalty.

>> "We will meet the requirements of the law, but we also believe there can be
>> innovation," he said.

>> Wlodkowski is looking to develop products that could help older Americans
>> "age in place" through the Xfinity home products, which now include home
>> security.

>> Generally, technology companies - with the exception of Apple Inc. - have
>> received poor marks in the selling of blind-friendly products.

>> "We see it as a civil right, and we see manufacturers embracing
>> accessibility way too slowly," Lauren McLarney, government affairs
>> specialist at the National Federation of the Blind, said of consumer
>> electronics and technology companies. Comcast's talking guide sounds
>> "worthwhile," but she hasn't seen it.

>> The association offers a channel guide by zip code called "newsline" that
>> last year was accessed 600,000 times.

>> Before the talking guide, Wlodkowski said, he would have to recognize Matt
>> Lauer's voice at NBC or Anderson Cooper on CNN. He also memorized channel
>> numbers. But most times, he had no idea what was on the channel.

>> "The only way I could navigate TV before," Wlodkowski said, "was to go up
>> and down the channels and listen until I found something that I liked."

>> Recently, he was fiddling with a talking TV guide and stumbled on Brady
>> Bunch reruns. "They still syndicate that? Wow," he said.

>> Formerly with AOL Inc., Wlodkowski is the vice president of accessibility
>> and said his team at Comcast had four goals:

>> To seek information from disabled customers about what they need and how
>> they interact with Comcast's products.

>> To integrate functionality into products so they can be more easily used by
>> disabled subscribers.

>> To introduce specific products, such as the talking guide.

>> To enhance customer service for disabled subscribers.

>> Wlodkowski, who was born blind, was raised in Southington, Conn., with three
>> older brothers. His parents insisted on a regular childhood. He rode a bike
>> in the neighborhood, skied with a guide, and marched in the marching band
>> (he beat the snare drum).

>> His most popular sitcom was Cheers because, he said, "it was relatively easy
>> to follow. When Norm walked in, everybody said, 'Hi, Norm.' "

>> He attended Boston College, majoring in communications. His first media job
>> was with WGBH, the public broadcasting station in Boston. While there,
>> Wlodkowski developed, with a federal grant from the Department of Education,
>> a prototype of a talking TV interface. It was never commercialized.

>> Wlodkowski said he was happy to be back in a city with mass transit and
>> lives in an apartment at 17th and Arch Streets. His wife, Michele, and
>> 15-year-old son, Colin, will relocate from Virginia, and he intends to buy a
>> suburban home near a rail line.

>> One challenging experience in Philadelphia has been mastering the elevators
>> at the sky-high Comcast Center. There are more than 30 elevators, and some
>> go only to certain floors.

>> "Catching the elevator in this place," Wlodkowski said, "is an art that I
>> don't think I have figured out."

>> Contact Bob Fernandez at 215-854-5897 or bob.fernandez at phillynews.com, or
>> follow on Twitter @bobfernandez1.

>> Bob Fernandez

>> Inquirer Staff Writer

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