By Edward Cardenas
PLYMOUTH (CBS Detroit) – Visually impaired Comcast customers will soon have a new tool that will allow them to “hear” television listings, network names and program descriptions on a new “talking guide.”READ MORE: Detroit Institute Of Arts' "Inside Out" Program Expands To 4 Oakland County Parks
The new service on the X1 platform – which could be utilized by visually impaired customers, language difficulties or those who need audio prompts – has a female voice read selections which appear on-screen and allows viewers to better navigate shows and services.
“Our job it to open Comcast products and services to the widest possible audience,” said Tom Wldokowski, vice president of audience, who added that service will be available by the end of the year.
In addition to offering the talking guide, Comcast has opened customer service center to serve customers with disabilities along with bills and channel lineups with large print and braille.
Comcast offers this service on the X1 platform, which is a cloud-based service and does not require any additional hardware or software on the box itself. The box pulls in content from the network, and streams the audio files of what is happening on the screen.READ MORE: Multiple Beaches, Including In Oakland County, Closed Due To Bacteria Levels
“X1 offers a really powerful TV viewing experience for all of our customers,” said Wldokowski, who added the service can easily be activated – or deactivated – with the push of a button.
There is no additional charge for the talking guide, and will be part of the X1 platform when it launches later this year.
While the service currently only offers the ability to “speak” what is on the screen, Comcast does offer voice-activated, remote control app to change channels and operate other features. A fully integrated voice activated app, combined with the talking guide, is under development.
Additionally, different languages will also be developed for the talking guide. Spanish will likely be the initial interface that will be available.MORE NEWS: Detroit Police Officer, Suspect Killed In Shooting On City's West Side
There are an estimated 19 million households in the United States with at least one member with a disability, and there are about 8.1 million people with a visual disability.