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Talking set-top box released in Australia

Friday 23 Sep 2011
The Australian government has announced the first Australian release of talking set-top boxes to help people who are vision impaired make the switch to digital-only television, The Australian reports.

Talking set-top boxes are designed to help the blind or vision impaired to navigate electronic programme guides, onscreen menus and settings of their television.

Text-to-speech technology is used to describe programmes, menu items and menu layouts, and includes capabilities to change the style of the speech and a ‘key learn’ mode for the remote.

“This kind of technology has been developed in other countries, however, no talking set-top box was available in the Australian market until now,” the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy, Stephen Conroy, said.

The set top boxes were recently trialled as part of the Household Assistance Scheme rollout in regional Victoria.

“The talking set-top box trial was designed to test this innovative technology with vision impaired Victorians,” said Mr Conroy.

The Household Assistance Scheme provides free help for pensioners to switch to digital TV. So far 50,000 eligible households nationally have been fitted under the scheme.