Entertainment

Software and Hardware Media Players

Audio and video files can be played on hardware devices (such as an iPod or portable DVD player), or via software on a computer (such as Windows Media Player or Apple QuickTime). This article discusses what to consider when determining options for making these files available for use by individuals with various types of disabilities.

Hardware media players

Controls: Controls should require minimal hand movement and activation pressure for the benefit of people with dexterity disabilities. Make sure that they are not too easy to activate or too close together.  Multiple controls with different shapes allow blind users to distinguish among them by touch.

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Audio Information Resources

People with visual or cognitive impairments can access materials in alternate formats such as large-print, braille and audio. Audio is a popular medium because it works with so many portable devices such as mp3 players, e-book readers, smartphones, and laptops. It's really a mainstream way of distributing content that people with disabilities are using, rather than a specialized channel.

Almost all types of content are available, although publishers may restrict access to some materials.

RoboBraille is a free web-based or email service that will convert digital text documents into mp3 audio files. Your file can be a .doc, .docx, .pdf, .txt, .xml, .html, .htm, .rtf, .epub, .mobi, etc..

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Video Description

Video description (also called 'audio description') lets people with visual impairments hear descriptions of visual elements of movies and television shows with a special narrative track. The narration runs simultaneously with the audio of the performance. These descriptions supplement the dialogue without interrupting it. Elements such as costumes, settings, expressions, etc. are included in this audio track.

Here is an excerpt of a described videoVideo description is only available for a few TV shows and DVDs. New regulations may go into effect expanding this service.

In the U.S., WGBH’s Media Access Group has pioneered work on descriptive video services.

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Captions on Popular Online Video Sites

Online videos have grown in number and importance to the point where deaf, hard of hearing, and other people who need captions are seriously disadvantaged if those captions are not available. For example, some educational institutions offer online training that includes videos, but these are often not available. And of course most informal videos, such as family reunions or school plays, are hardly ever captioned.

Adding to this problem is the fact that there are many different video formats, and the most popular online video sites use different interfaces to control playback.

However, there are some improvements in online captioning, and more progress is on the way. This article covers how to find and view captioned videos online.

Captioning of video websites varies since there is no legal requirement to caption "consumer-generated" videos.  Federal government agencies do have to caption their online videos under Section 508, and a

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Captioning

Captions display the dialogue, narration, and sounds of a video program.  Captions can be found on broadcast programs, DVDs, online, or on any other video technology. They are used by viewers who are deaf or hard of hearing, and by people who are learning the language or who benefit from hearing and seeing the content at the same time.

This article explores the basics of captions.  There are other articles here for more specific topics, including how to add captions to a video you are producing.

TVs and Set-top Boxes

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Assistive Listening Technology

People who are hard of hearing may have trouble hearing a speaker in a public auditorium or meeting room, even if they use hearing aids or have cochlear implants.  Assistive listening technology is a way your organization can improve the quality and volume of the audio delivered to these audience members.  There are many options. 

This article will cover some of the issues and solutions.

The basic idea of assistive listening systems is that the audio signal is collected and transmitted to units that "feed" into a person's hearing aids or cochlear implant.

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Comcast Talking TV Guide

Comcast today announced the industry’s first voice-enabled television user interface, a solution that will revolutionize the way its Xfinity TV customers, especially those who are blind or low vision, navigate the X1 platform.

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Free Video-less 3-D Games Coming & Out

BlindSide is "an audio-only adventure game, set in a fully-immersive 3D world you’ll never see. Put on your headphones, close your eyes, and explore the darkness. Listen as the world rotates around you!" It's selling for Mac or PC at $3.99.

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e-Reader Waiver Granted for 1 Year

You may have heard that a coalition of e-reader manufacturers consisting of Amazon, Kobo and Sony, filed a petition requesting the FCC waive the rule requiring e-readers to have text to speech capabilities. 

The FCC has made a decision and the National Federation for the Blind has shared the following:

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