Back in 2007, when the first smart TVs came out, they could only do basic things like connect to the internet, run apps, and watch movies and shows.
Their features were limited compared to the smart TVs we have today in 2023.
From 2010 to 2015, many big TV companies started improving their TVs, making them more powerful and functional.
But during that time, there was one important thing missing – the ability to make smart TVs accessible to everyone, including those with visual or hearing impairments.
Fast forward to 2023, and things have changed.
Now, many smart TVs come with a lot of features that make them more welcoming and accessible to everyone.
1) Audio Descriptions
As I mentioned earlier, smart TVs weren’t very user-friendly for people with visual impairments just a few years ago.
Watching TV shows was really challenging for them.
If you’re not familiar with the concept, audio descriptions are similar to having a narrator.
They describe what’s happening on the screen, including actions and scenes. So, even if you can’t see everything, you can still follow the story.
Let’s say you’re watching the popular movie ‘A Quiet Place‘ on Netflix, and you have a visual impairment.
What would you do? Would you give up or scratch your head, mourning,
“Oh God, why with me!”
Well, that time has passed. We now have “Audio Descriptions” features on our TVs.
Just enable it, and you’re good to go.
Note: This feature is called TalkBack on Google TV, VoiceView on Fire TV, VoiceGuide on Samsung, and VoiceOver on Apple TV.
2) Closed captions
According to a report from the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 1.5 billion people, which is almost 20% of the world’s population, have some level of hearing difficulties.
Out of these, 430 million people experience severe hearing loss.
But the interesting part is that approximately 30% of them watch TV every day for various reasons like news, entertainment, and more.
It’s quite challenging for them to understand what’s being said in the TV programs or what the actors are talking about on the screen.
This is where closed captions come to the rescue!
Instead of describing things visually, closed captions show the spoken words in text form.
For Samsung users who are deaf or have trouble hearing, there’s a Sign Language Guide feature that translates menu options into American Sign Language using an onscreen avatar (available on certain 2022 models).
However, there are three caption options in the menu:
- Caption Mode: This lets you change the language of the captions, although the available languages depend on the TV station. In most cases, it’s best to leave this on the default setting.
- Digital Caption: You can modify the appearance of the captions. You can change the font style, size, color, background color, and more.
- Separate Closed Caption: This feature is only available for shows that support broadcast captions. It allows you to turn closed captions on or off.
Depending on your device, you might also be able to choose where the captions appear on your screen and adjust the font, size, and color to your liking.
Abdul Kader, a handy guy and experienced founder of a TV repair shop in Gulshan, Dhaka, Bangladesh. He is mainly an expert in understanding and repairing different types of issues with Smart TVs and providing helpful insights on how to keep them in good working order. Read his Full Story.