Comcast has launched video descriptive services for this year's Winter Paralympics, taking place in PyeongChang, as well as big changes to the accessibility options on its Xfinity X1 receiver boxes. This marks the first time that Paralympic broadcasts on the company's NBC and NBCSN networks will include those services, while the changes to X1 are intended to make accessing those features and others a less daunting task. That should be helpful since the company says the primary reason those features go unused is due to lack of awareness about them. Meanwhile, Comcast has improved voice controls, voice guidance and closed captioning services for its Xfinity X1 platform and all of the features will run throughout the over 94-hours of coverage that's planned for the event. The company announced its changes on March 9 and the Paralympics run from March 9 through March 19.
Aside from the decision to include video descriptive services for the Paralympic games, accessing those types of features on Infinity X1 should be much easier now thanks to some changes in the associated menus. Using the X1 platform's voice controls, for starters, users can jump straight to accessibility features just by saying "accessibility." Better still, saying pertinent keywords like "captions," "description," "SAP," "voice guidance," or "shows with description" will navigate directly to the appropriate menu or find shows that have video descriptive services enabled. The shortcuts should help those with disabilities, or their loved ones, to easily find the exact option they need to enjoy the content more fully. Meanwhile, for those with disabilities affecting speech, tapping the "B" button on the system's remote will move users straight to the accessibility options menu. Voice guidance for menu navigation has also been improved through the inclusion of speech speed options. Users can choose between regular, fast, or fastest.
The goal here is obviously to help those who suffer from disabilities in hearing or vision to more thoroughly enjoy the Paralympics this year and going forward. However, the tech-driven features appear to be sticking around beyond the event and should lead to a better experience overall for those who may not be able to consume media more often. Whether it's turning on or off accessibility features easily or finding actual content that supports those features more easily, using accessibility features with voice or remote will be much easier from here on out.