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jimrush
Level 7

Screen information for accessibility interface

From what I've read in the SDK and from a few posts in the forum, there isn't a way to find out what is going on inside a channel. Is there any intent to change?

My wife is blind and I'm attempting to provide some sort of interface to her. I can start a channel and I can blindly send remote commands. Without positive feedback from the unit, accuracy of when to send the next set of commands can be hit and miss. And, if they channel contents change at all, the programmed navigation instructions will fail. Even basic synchronization events and high level clues would be useful. Ideally, I'd like to query the navigation choices and provide them directly to the channel. It appears the interface has the concept of providing selectors to a channel, but I can't find documentation on any channel that provides additional information.

Many years ago i was able to do something viable with Tivo. They provided two usable APIs (barely). One to send remote commands, like the Roku's interface. I could also get the entire recorded file listing. I was able to calculate all of the navigation movements (including page down movements for performance) and was able to get shows started for her allowing her to get some value out of our solution. I bundled this up in a small winforms application. We then switched to DirecTV that had implemented a fully functional movie selection and start playback interface, but ripped it out before the units were significantly into production (I didn't have one, but I remember running across some that had a unit where the function was active).

If anybody has any suggestions that I've overlooked, please respond on the forum or directly.

Thank you,
Jim
me@jimrush.net
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3 Replies
EnTerr
Level 8

Re: Screen information for accessibility interface

I am afraid low-vision accessibility on Roku has gloomy outlook - but let's see what Roku* have to say.

Couple of years ago, I made an effort of improving accessibility in my iPhone app "Remote for Roku": after reading this comment under the "Apps for controlling your Roku player" blog entry, i gave it a thought of what can i do to improve app's accessibility. And since i saw Marco Arment said "VoiceOver accessibility in iOS is extremely easy", i gave it a shot. Turned out there was precious little i had to do - improve button alt. labels - to make VoiceOver feature work well with the app. And so i did. Seems that pirey4@"DVPRemote" has also put some consideration in voiceover - but not the other apps, including "Roku" app by Roku Inc - and that's a reason i am doubtful if RokuCo are concerned with accessibility for the blind.

It is true that if they care, it would be relatively easy for Roku to add "voice-over" feature to the standard types of screens that most channels use. Which they may do - or not do, since it's likely a tiny market segment of vision-impaired people want to use a mostly visual device.

Now, you may be better served by couple of other options: AppleTV has accessibility features (like voice-over) embedded throughout channels - plus if using AirPlay to cast content from iOS device, can also use the iPhone/iPad accessibility features. (Yes, a more closed platform and no custom channels on AppleTV, sorry). Another option is DirecTV - their remoting API allows you to check remotely which channel is on screen and what's on each channel (though AFAIR they removed the access to the full weekly TV guide).
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EnTerr
Level 8

Re: Screen information for accessibility interface

Couple of years later - well, good news!
Sort of, kind of - not quite the accessibility interface - but we are half-way there.

So, what's new:
  • Now (since v.?!) there is a way to remotely check what's the currently running channel

  • v7.2 just added Text-2-Speech library, to be manually integrated by each app

  • Roku remote app is (accessibility) usable

I was reminded today of this post because of viewtopic.php?f=28&t=95486&p=534745#p534731

Roku* -
while trying "Roku" app in VoiceOver today (good job overall but), i noticed some accessibility bu... err, insufficiencies. Can you please pass these to your iOS developer:
  • The buttons in the menu bar are un-labeled (e.g. the "hamburger"/menu, Power, [<], ), pronounce as "button" - should say what they do

  • Moreover, for some reason the "Roku" logo in home screen upper-left is a button (which does nothing?!)

  • "Play on Roku" for videos does not work with VoiceOver, no way to select/play (weird!)

  • Panels on home screen are not flippable, e.g. how do i open the "My Channels" launchpad? Given first panel is stuck at "Remote" pane, i could not find a way to slide to "My Channels"... serious handicap
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jimrush
Level 7

Re: Screen information for accessibility interface

Thank you for the update. We'll see if things improve. Roku is still the center of our streaming experience. For my blind wife, live television, podcasts, and other mediums, are her focus when I'm not around.

Jim
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