Blind Comcast exec builds TV features for the Paralympics

From the blog of Tom Wlodkowski, VP of Accessibility, Comcast

The PyeongChang Paralympics are a great example of how Comcast NBCUniversal unites content, distribution, and technology to bring a truly unique experience to millions of people across the country, including viewers with disabilities.

For the first time ever, Paralympic broadcasts on NBC and NBCSN will include video description. And on Xfinity X1, voice control, voice guidance and closed captioning will help viewers access the planned 94 hours of Paralympics television coverage, the most ever for a Winter Games - nearly doubling Sochi 2014 (50 hours). Based on recent research, we know these assistive technologies are helpful but they also suffer from low levels of awareness. To make accessibility options even easier to enable on X1, we created a few shortcuts for customers – just say “accessibility” into the X1 Voice Remote or tap the “B” key to get to a menu with all of X1’s accessibility options. X1 customers can also quickly jump into specific features by saying “captions,” description,” “SAP,” “voice guidance” or “shows with description” to find any programs that are described. We also have made some of our most popular accessible features even better. We were the first in our industry to launch voice guidance, a talking TV guide that reads aloud program titles, network names and DVR and On Demand menus for people with visual disabilities. Now users can control the rate of speech by choosing from “regular”, “fast” or “fastest” to navigate their X1 experience. In all, NBC Olympics will present more than 250 hours of coverage across NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA, NBCSports.com, and the NBC Sports app. And over the next 10 days, NBC Olympics’ coverage will include all six Paralympic winter sports – alpine skiing, snowboarding, sled hockey, wheelchair curling, cross-country skiing, and biathlon.