A common question asked by people with impaired vision is, “How can I see the TV screen better?” My response, “Get closer to it.”
Making adjustments along the way can be beneficial. Bigger is usually better, and today means screens as large as 60, 70, or even 80 inches. Repositioning furniture may put you at a better angle to the screen. Blocking external light may eliminate glare bouncing off the screen.
Having tried all those things, I still find, the most satisfying TV viewing is at eye level and just a few feet from the screen. Getting up close certainly does improve the picture but it doesn’t resolve issues navigating menus or reading program guides. Now there is a solution for this issue as well.
As of late December 2016, the FCC implemented the Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA) rules that mandate the accessibility of user interfaces on digital apparatus and navigation devices used to view video programming.
What this means is your cable provider now offers a voice-enabled or talking on-screen TV guide. There is also a requirement to install it and provide instruction on its use.
Contact your cable company for details about getting these features for your TV. Tell them you need “visual accessibility” or “voice enable programming and menus.” An online search for Visual Accessibility at Fios, Optimum, DISH, Spectrum, and Comcast confirmed all have talking guides available now.
If you happen to be a Comcast customer — you may already have these features working for you. The Comcast Accessibility Lab was first to implement the highest standards for accessibility — long before it was required. Get the benefit of their talking program guide, and voice commands which allow you to search for programming with your voice. They also have a dedicated Comcast Accessibility Center (866.668.6703) for customer service and technical support.
About the Author
Dorrie Rush is a Visual Accessibility Expert and progressive proponent for Universal Access and Inclusive Design. She is the former Director of the Grunwald Technology Center and Information Resource Service at Lighthouse International 2001 to 2016. Dorrie is known to have an eccentric view, which is particularly useful in compensating for her central vision loss from Stargardt Disease.