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Wish-List For Digital Television

Editor's Note: The following article is reprinted from E-Access Bulletin, Issue 29, May 2002: http://www.headstar.com/eab

The ability to change the text size and colour balance of the electronic programme guides would be the most useful accessibility function to build in to interactive digital television services, according to a survey of more than 200 vision-impaired people published by the RNIB last month.

Speech output for all functions was also favoured by 165 of the 204 respondents, while a similar number called for audio described programming and fewer functions.

One survey respondent said: "I\'d like a screen-reading function (like JAWS for a PC) on all text-based screens so that I can use my TV similarly to the way in which I use my PC." Another said: "If this one device could have a selection of interfaces (visual or otherwise), text, sign language, audio (speech) output and variable settings, then all users could customize it to their personal needs."

A third respondent looked forward to an age of technology convergence: "In the long run I\'d like one machine that serves as an entertainment centre, PC and communications device, so that everything I currently do with a PC, telephone, TV, stereo, video, DVD player and so on could be housed in one bit of kit with one screen, one set of speakers and one keyboard, mouse or remote control. I\'ve got too much to plug in right now!"

The survey was stage four of a five-stage research programme conducted by Sylvie Perera of the RNIB Scientific Research Unit. The first three parts provide an overview of the issues; an assessment of the use of smart cards as a way for people to save personal viewing settings; and a usability assessment by partially sighted people. The final stage attempted to create a design specification for some of the requested functions.

To download the report see: http://www.tiresias.org/itv/intro.htm

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