United Kingdom (27 March 2012):
Panasonic have launched an innovative new range of talking televisions that were designed with the help of experts at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB)
RNIB provided detailed design advice and user feedback on the talking feature which is now included as standard in the Panasonic Viera 2012 TV range. The TV is easy to use and allows blind and partially sighted people to watch, enjoy or view TV independently.
Many people take using a television guide or on screen channel information for granted, but for people with sight loss it can be a challenge to find out information about their favourite programmes, check what is on later or to set a programme for recording.
This new feature, known as 'Voice Guidance', works by announcing on-screen information with synthetic speech and provides clear instructions on how to navigate around the TV menu. The talking feature allows people to choose the level of guidance that suits them, whether beginner or expert, and can be adjusted in terms of speed and volume. This is intended to make Panasonic TVs easier to use for a wide range of people. As well as people with sight loss, those with difficulty reading or operating electrical goods are set to benefit.
Fazilet Hadi, Group Director of Inclusive Society at RNIB, said: "This is a fantastic step forward. Televisions with talking features hugely improve the television experience for those of us with sight loss, ensuring that we can easily select channels and programmes. Text to speech technology has greatly improved in recent years and we hope that other developers and manufacturers join Panasonic in leading the way in making inclusive and accessible design the norm."
Fabrice Estornel, Senior Manager TV Group, Panasonic UK, said: “We are really pleased to be the first manufacturer to offer this feature, which will be of great benefit to blind and partially sighted people”.
RNIB has made a commitment to support industry to bring accessible and usable products into the marketplace and continues to work with a number of organisations to achieve this. This latest development came after RNIB Chair Kevin Carey visited Japan in 2009 to outline the difficulties blind and partially sighted people were experiencing with TV, to executives at Panasonic.