Apple TV: A great experience for the blind and visually impaired

Despite losing my vision I still enjoy watching television. My viewing habits haven’t changed too much I still enjoy watching everything from cartoons, documentaries and dramas. It is however a little easier to follow shows that are story driven and rely less on visuals. The reliance on visuals is why I find a lot of modern day films difficult to follow.

ONe of the most annoying things however those is navigating through the channels on television. While Audio Description was introduced to describe the actual shows there hasn’t been a great improvement in navigating channels. There are one or two screen reading free view boxes. But it isn’t something I have really invested in to date. The reason being my Apple TV.

The Apple TV supports VoiceOver just like the rest of the Apple line. The great thing about this is it reads menus and the full description of the media. This has made selecting shows an absolute breeze for me. Now when my son asks me to put on “choo-choo’s” I dont have to tell him to wait for mummy. I can just flick the Apple TV on and navigate through the menus to find Thomas, or Chuggington or Dinosaur Train any of the shows he loves with trains in them.

This is made possible thanks to a couple of subscription services on the Apple TV: Netflix and Hulu Plus. Netflix is an absolute breeze to setup, turn on your Apple TV enable VoiceOver and simply start Netflix. The Netflix account is attached to your Apple ID so it takes care of the subscription for you. Hulu Plus is much the same, you just subscribe through the Apple TV.

You can even access your own media located in your iTunes media. This is another great feature. All those DVD’s you own that you have no idea which one to put in. Put them all into your iTunes media centre and navigate through your collection with VoiceOver.

VoiceOver really has changed the way I am able to access media. I am no longer reliant on asking my wife which channel a particular show is currently on, or which DVD a particular film is. I can simply flick on the Apple TV and navigate through all my media myself. It isn’t restricted to video either, I often use it to stream audio from my phone as an AirPlay stereo, or even access music services directly on the Apple TV. It is truly a great device and for under a £100 an incredibly cheap piece of accessible hardware.

2 thoughts on “Apple TV: A great experience for the blind and visually impaired

  1. If I have netflix on my ipod with voiceover, what functionality can I gain from apple tv in general? I am not sure the other subscription service is available in my country. Is there anything else? Thanks a lot!

  2. Netflix works a little better on the AppleTV than it does on the iDevices. Mainle because the menus are a little more stripped down and it makes navigation simpler.

    However it is easy to get a US iTunes account and have access to all the content on Netflix US and subscribe to Hulu Plus. If you have a Netflix account using a service like Unblock-US will allow you to view content from any Netflix region in the world, so you could have all the USA content and the UK content!

    If you create the US iTunes account and use Unblock-US you can have access to Hulu Plus. The content available on Hulu Plus is fantastic.

    Also CW just abounded they will be releasing on the AppleTV just after WWDC. So it might be worth holding out and see if there is an announcement at this years WWDC about any additional AppleTV content.

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