TV for the blind

Andrew Rowland | 1 Mar 2016 | 0 comments

I got a call from a neighbour, Mr P, as he couldn’t get a TV picture again and the usual trick of unplugging the set-top box and plugging in again hadn’t worked. When I got there it was obvious that the cheap set-top box he had got to convert his telly to digital, long unreliable, had finally given up the ghost. I also noticed that his ancient TV was showing some very odd colours and wasn’t filling the screen properly, so the time for a change had definitely come. Mr P had very poor vision and hadn’t been fully aware of the problem.

His favourite programmes were whodunnits, so ITV3 was his favourite channel. But his deteriorating vision and hearing made it hard for him to follow and enjoy the programmes as much as before.

My first advice was to get a large 40 inch flat screen TV. That would help enormously with his seeing what was happening on screen. We also made sure it supported audio description, which is a service where a commentator describes the action during the gaps in the dialogue. An increasing number of programmes now offer this as well as subtitles for the hard of hearing. Mr P didn’t know such a service was available.

The final piece was to specify a good quality sound system to compensate for his poor hearing, and ensure that it could all be controlled by a single remote control, as with his poor vision, it could be confusing having two remotes that he couldn’t easily distinguish.

The grin on his face when we switched on and he realised how much more he could see than before was a delight. A week later we bumped into each other outside the house and he told me excitedly how audio description had transformed his enjoyment of his beloved whodunnits. The commentator not only described the action and filled you in on things like facial expressions, but also mentioned significant visual clues, vital for the armchair detective!

At GoggleboxTech we don’t just fit aerials and dishes. We take into account the whole picture: what the customer really needs and how their enjoyment can be improved. We can often save money by suggesting alternatives. In Mr P’s case, the set we chose didn’t cost him any more than similar, less suitable ones. My experience as a recording technician with our local talking newspaper for the blind, as well as my knowledge of the TV industry, made all the difference to my advice.

Sadly, less than a year later, my neighbour succumbed to a worsening of a long-term illness and died. But I am glad to think that his last months were brightened by his being able to continue enjoying his favourite programmes despite his issues, and that is what makes this job so worthwhile.

© Andrew Rowland 2016

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