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AFB  ®
Technology News for People Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired
From the American Foundation for the Blind
 September 2012 Issue  Volume 13  Number 9

Letters to the Editor

Opinions Vary on TV Access Article

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I was pleased to see a nice travel article about Williamsburg and nearby attractions by Janet Ingber in AccessWorld. My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting Williamsburg in the 1990s. This article rekindled my memories and made me want to return again!

I hope AccessWorld will feature more articles about travel destinations in the future. It is good to know of attractions that are touchable/accessible, but I also like to read about places that a blind person can enjoy traveling without a car. My husband is partially sighted. Neither of us drives, and we like vacation spots that are good walking areas and/or have good public transportation.

Last year we flew to St. Louis, took the tram from the airport to the Amtrak station, boarded the Missouri River Runner, and then we were able to walk from the station in Hermann to our hotel. We visited another city that week and then returned via Amtrak to the St. Louis Airport. It was fun doing all that traveling without having to once climb into a taxi! Our train hopping was made even easier with some wonderful backpacks we bought after visiting a website mentioned in Wendy David's book, Sites Unseen: Traveling the World without Sight (DB 73854), available for download from BARD or for purchase through National Braille Press.

Another good accessible travel book available through BARD is All Aboard: The Complete North American Train Travel Guide by Jim Loomis (DB 74132). My husband and I read this book and can't wait to do more train travel. It is one of the rewards I anticipate upon retirement: some slower paced, leisurely travel and exploration.

Sincerely,

Joni

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

Thanks for your excellent commentary by Paul Schroeder in the August 2012 issue of AccessWorld. I've been a fan of DVS ever since I first heard about it in the 90s. I still have quite a few VHS versions of some DVS movies, and I still actually have a small TV in my bedroom with a built-in VCR! In 2002, I attended the ACB convention in Houston and was pleased to find that there were more options, even quite a few movies on Lifetime and TNT, described by the Narrative Television Network (NTN). I returned home and spent the next two months or so recuperating from illness. Wow, was I ever happy to know that there was a good bit of described entertainment I could enjoy while recuperating, especially on Lifetime which was by far my favorite channel at the time! I'm glad the FCC ruling finally went into effect, and I can't wait to get my hands on an accessible set-top box. However, I've already been disappointed by the lack of knowledge about this by the DIRECTV tech-support staff.

Recently, I called DIRECTV after taking a survey about customer satisfaction and making it clear that I had serious concerns regarding the accessibility of their website and failure to listen to audio-described programming even with SAP turned on. A technician came out to try to help, but the best he could do was to tell me how many times to press the right-arrow after pressing the "Info" button to get to the English/Spanish setting and how many times to use the down arrow to reach the setting I wanted. We both thought that might be the most likely way to access DVS content. I've tried this several times on cable/satellite networks, such as TBS, with shows that I knew were being described. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to make it work with DIRECTV at all. I've been offered a two-year contract with DIRECTV, lowering my monthly fees and upgrading my equipment. Of course, no one at DIRECTV seems to know if it will work any better!

Do you think I may be better off to switch to something like Comcast? In Nashville, we have both Comcast and AT&T U-verse. Honestly, I think Comcast has a better variety of programming, and I'd switch in a minute if I thought it would be easier! At any rate, I hope that a day will soon come when it won't matter what provider you use and only maybe which set-top box!

Thanks again for a great article!

Jana

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

The biggest problem I have encountered is that the local cable company says they have no idea what Descriptive Video Service is, and they tell me to contact the networks.

Best regards,

Cindy

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I was very disappointed with the "Watching TV" article in the August issue of Access World. For me, there are much bigger issues involved in TV than video descriptions, although that is also an important issue. For me, the most pressing issue is getting full access to cable TV and set-top boxes. As of now, I can't use many of the features, such as DVR and On-Demand, TV set-top menus, cable box menus, etc., that I'm paying for. I would have hoped that an article about watching TV would have included some of these issues, particularly contact information for letting our cable companies know we aren't satisfied with their accessibility. I've heard that Comcast has hired a blind vice-president for accessibility. It would have been nice to have had that info in this article.

The article was good as it provided links to information. It was just much more limited in scope than I have come to expect from AccessWorld.

Sincerely,

John

Dear AccessWorld Editor,

I was glad to read this last article in your series ["Removing the Stress from iOS"]. This debate about whether or not it's time to leave the note taking devices behind will go on for some time. I, for one, am about ready to do just that because I can take the notes I need to take on the iPhone or the iPad. I hadn't heard about the Plain Text app, so I'll get that today as I also use Dropbox.

Thanks for your valuable input.

Cordially,

Michael

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