Query on Cable/Satellite set-top box accessibility

I have loads of info and experience in most aspects of technology accessibility. This, however, is an area where I’m seeking to learn from others.
An impending change by Comcast to eliminate most analog signals means that my current solution for video recording of a Media Center PC with an analog TV tuner card will no longer work. In researching my options, I thought I’d see what anyone knew related to the state of the art, if any, there was in terms of direct access to the functionality of the set-top box?
I seem to recall some prototype software once that showed how the interface for accessibility on a set-top box might work. Did that go anyplace ever? In short is their anyone doing something good in terms of accessibility in this space I can share with Comcast and the manufacturers of the boxes?
For what it is worth, this change has nothing to do with the impending switch to digital TV for broadcasters. Instead Comcast is replacing most analog signals in their cable lineup to make room for more HD signals. My current proposed solution is looking like replacing my media center PC with a newer computer with a digital tuner card capable of handling a cable card required for decoding of digital cable signals. But at $1200 or so, it isn’t the most immediate solution I’d like to use.

Humorous Packer Song

To fully appreciate the humor here, being a reader of the Packers blog on the JS Online web site helps but I found this little tune kind of funny. The lyrics are filled with references to excuses for the poor Packer play this year taken from press conferences after most of the losses. Listen after the song ends for “Osseo”, a Wisconsinized version of the Beach Boys’ tune “Kokomo”.

Accessible Credit Reports, Finally?

Accessible credit reports is a topic I’ve written about previously. U.S. Law has mandated that consumers get free access to a copy from each credit bureau annually but the process has been fraught with accessibility problems since inception. It is nice to see progress being made to the point that the details are now in place to obtain accessible copies of your credit report.


I opted to try the process for requesting a Braille copy of a credit report to try things out. I’ll update the blog when I receive the accessible copy. The basic instructions to obtain an accessible copy of a credit report by phone are:


People who are blind or visually impaired within the meaning of the Americans with Disabilities Act may order Braille, Large Print or Audio credit reports from any of the three credit reporting agencies by calling, toll free:



The telephone process is straight forward. An automated process guides you through identifying yourself by phone number, address, birthdate and social security number. Once you’ve entered the requested details, you select the alternative format desired. The process finishes by having you select the credit agency or agencies that should send you a report.

Disappointing ShopLocal Experience

Retailers like Best Buy and Circuit City use a service known as ShopLocal to produce their online ads. The disappointing thing for me is that when you visit one of these weekly ad sites, there’s a link pointing you to accessibility instructions on how to make the site work if you are visually impaired. The link takes you to http://bestbuy.shoplocal.com/bestbuy/controls/default/Accessibility.html.


Great but for the fact that the info appears very dated and doesn’t even work. I’m told by some that this info is no longer needed in newer versions of screen readers. That said, at least for me with any of the screen readers that support Flash, it still isn’t possible for me to reliably select a category to browse or products areas within those categories. In short the Flash does not seem to work from an accessibility perspective.


Follow this link to an example of the Best Buy weekly ad pages. What’s been the experience of others here? Are you able to use these ShopLocal ads?


There’s a comment form for ShopLocal at

http://www.shoplocal.com/comment.aspx. I’ve left feedback so we’ll see if any response happens.

W3C Announces WCAG 2.0

Today the W3C
announced release of the 2.0 version of the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). As most know, these guidelines set the standard for what’s considered an accessible web page. If you’ve not familiarized yourself with the 2.0 version, now is a good time to do so. Testimonials in support of WCAG 2.0 are also worth a read. The guidelines appear to have widespread industry support. Let’s hope that support is followed with implementation from both the supporting organizations and the web community in general.