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The Oscars and Partnering with Comcast on X1 Access

When Comcast’s Mary Spillane called earlier this month to ask if we would work with them to test and improve the Talking Guide for the X1 cable box, we were naturally excited. Comcast gave us an X1 box with a year of cable service – and a new TV – so we could use, evaluate and demonstrate the accessibility. Mary said they wanted us to give feedback, and we’ve already begun to do so.

Mary was excited to have us on board, but I think she was just as excited about tonight’s Oscars broadcast, when Comcast’s new commercial “Emily’s Oz” will debut,” with narration by Robert Redford.

Woo! This is big stuff!

Of course, she couldn’t give us any details until late last week – it was all very hush-hush, which just made things even more exciting.

On Friday Comcast issued a press release regarding the upcoming commercial, intended to highlight its accessibility offerings to customers, and to push the conversation about disability and entertainment a bit further. Emily is a blind 7-year-old whose favorite movie is “The Wizard of Oz” … Well, go see this short, “The Making of Emily’s Oz”and more on “Comcast’s Emily Oz” page to get the picture – or the audio-description.

And you can watch the actual “Emily’s Oz” commercial as well!

The Colorado Center for the Blind is mentioned in the press release along with another half-dozen training centers working with Comcast. We’re tickled to note that we’re the only one on the list located west of the Alleghenies.

Comcast has jumped into accessibility with both feet, and they should make hay of it, but it is clear they also really want to engage those customers with disabilities for whom they are developing accessibility. Asking blind folks how Comcast can make their X1 product better is one good example – an example the entire telecommunications industry should emulate. Who would know better than we would?

It turns out that a number of Center staff and even some students have already used the X1’s Talking Guide. Well, with temperatures still sagging around the 10-degree mark and more than six inches on the ground this morning in Littleton (and still falling), everyone should plan to pop some corn, tuck themselves in on the couch and watch the Oscars for a delightful few seconds with the precocious Emily … Oh, and there might be some other items of interest on the Academy Awards show itself, too!

Happy accessible viewing to us all tonight and in the future!

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