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X1 ‘Talking Guide’ Speaks to 650K Set-Tops

Comcast subscribers have activated the operator's new “talking guide” on more than 650,000 X1 set-top boxes nationwide as of April 2015, Tom Wlodkowski, Comcast Cable’s VP of audience, announced Tuesday in this blog post.

Following a set of trials last summer, Comcast formally introduced the talking guide for its X1 platform last November, extending a feature that is tailored to the needs of customers who are blind or visually impaired or use English as a second language. The Voice Guidance component, which features a female voice and is driven by Comcast’s cloud-powered X1 platform, reads aloud channel names, show titles, video-on-demand settings and even DVR commands as the customer navigates the guide with the X1’s standard remote control.

Wlodkowski, who is blind, also shared some customer feedback on the feature and noted that the X1 talking guide “tracked more than 73 million utterances – the announcement of a channel, show title or menu item being read aloud” in April alone.

He shared those stats, along with some feedback from customers who use the X1 talking guide, the day after it was honored by FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in the fourth annual Chairman’s Awards for Advancement in Accessibility. Comcast won in the video description category.

Comcast’s talking guide has received similar recognition from the Associated Services for the Blind, the American Association of People with Disabilities and the American Foundation for the Blind.

“While awards and recognition are great, we know we are still just scratching the surface of what’s possible in the accessibility space,” Wlodkowski said.