Nov 27, 2012

Driving Accessibility Through Innovation

I joined Comcast this past summer as VP of Accessibility. For me, and for us at Comcast, accessibility is about opening up our products and services to all users, including customers with a variety of disabilities — people who are blind, people who are deaf or hard of hearing and people with physical disabilities. For example, I was born blind so for me, a self-guided installation process with voice output is essential. 

Some customers might not be able to use a mouse or hold a remote, but the techniques and technology adjustments that we make to enable accessibility for these groups really have the opportunity to open up Comcast products to existing segments of our audience in a different way. For example, while voice output is necessary for me to access an electronic program guide, it might also be beneficial to the elderly so they don’t have to read the screen or it’s reinforced with some audio output. Or take Xfinity Home, which provides customers next-generation home security, control and energy management ― all through the use of an interactive Web portal, mobile devices and the Xfinity Home app. It’s an added convenience for everyone, but for someone with a disability, a product like Xfinity Home could really be the difference between needing assistance on a daily basis or living independently. I think the potential impact we could have here is incredible. 

My first priority is to tackle the second-screen approach. Immediately, I am thinking about what we can put into the hands of the consumer that opens up Comcast’s products and services in a way that perhaps they haven’t been before. We’re already starting a process where we’re auditing our websites, mobile apps and products to advance and evolve usability by people with disabilities. In parallel to that, we’re building an Accessibility Lab and will begin prototyping. I’ve already talked extensively with our user experience team, and we’re starting to figure out what it means to make an electronic program guide grid accessible to someone who can’t see it on the screen and what type of voice cues or prompts we need to provide to make it contextually logical. 

I look forward to sharing my progress on Comcast Voices and ultimately contributing to making a better Comcast for everyone.

Tags : Accessibility, User Experience

 
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