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Comcast Launches New Accessible TV Features for 2018 Paralympics

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.

From March 9 through March 18, NBC Olympics will cover all six Paralympic winter sports – alpine skiing, snowboarding, sled hockey, wheelchair curling, cross-country skiing, and biathlon – as part of its more than 250 hours of 2018 Winter Games coverage across NBC, NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA,, and the NBC Sports app. 

For the first time ever, Paralympic broadcasts on NBC and NBCSN include video description. And on Xfinity X1, voice control, voice guidance and closed captioning are helping viewers access the planned 94 hours of Paralympics television coverage. It's the most ever for a Winter Games, nearly doubling that of 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 easier to enable on X1, we created a few shortcuts for customers; for example, saying “accessibility” into the X1 Voice Remote or tapping the “B” key to get to a menu with all of X1’s accessibility options. X1 users can also quickly jump into specific features by saying “captions,” description,” “SAP,” “voice guidance” or, to find any programs that are described, “shows with description.”

We also have made some improvements to our most popular accessible features. 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 “regular,” “fast” or “fastest” to navigate their X1 experience.

Tom Wlodkowski, who is blind himself, is Comcast's vice president of accessibility. He's pictured above demonstrating the MSO's new X1 voice remote features. Click here to watch a video about him and his work.