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Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

More updates from CES

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A man holding a business diagram, featuring different types of technology.

Day 2 at CES featured some TV, some audio, some speech and a nice little company making nifty headphones.

OK, so I sort of surrender to the TV juggernaut that is CES with a visit to Panasonic. But, this is a blindness access story and not a (super high-def, screen as large as my garage story).

Some of you have probably heard about television sets from Panasonic that are available in England with great speech output for on-screen menus, channels and the like. And, we've been asking, and asking, why not here in the US? Well, Panasonic is going to release a whole bunch of televisions in the US market with speech output (or voice guidance), I understand in the spring.

Now, this is exciting, but there's a caveat. Many of the best functions of these TVs won't be much good to a lot of us because our Cable or satellite set-top boxes control our televisions.

But it's a good start and kudos to Panasonic for bringing this technology to our market. Now, set-top box folks, how about opening the door so we can fully control our TVs.

And speaking of the television experience, many of us are starting to appreciate video description of television programs since it began last July.

But maybe you've thought to yourself, why can't I independently set the volume of the description? Or for that matter why must the description channel also be shared with Spanish language translations?

Well, Dolby, the company known for its industry-leading audio technology, has the answer—you can, or hopefully, you will. They've developed an audio standard that allows multiple audio channels to be mixed (that is controlled through your television receiver), so you can choose to set the description volume separately from the main audio and also so that more than one channel can be delivered.

Unfortunately, the standard is not yet adopted across the Cable and broadcast television industry, but since Dolby is so important to the industry, we hope it will eventually happen.

Finally, a quick shout out to the folks at AcousticSheep LLC and their "SleepPhones." A neat idea that combines headphones into comfortable and washable exercise headbands and outdoor ear warmers. I know I'm looking forward to purchasing a set to test out during my all too infrequent sessions in the fitness room.

Business diagram photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

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Assistive Technology
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Re: More updates from CES



Great information about video description television. Although I am on the Internet daily looking for new information about low vision technology, this is the first I have become aware that this is available on major networks. I will be researching how to find the programs that offer video descriptions Any assistance anyone can give me about how to find the programming would be much appreciated.


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