The Royal National Institute for the Blind (RNIB) has announced new technology that will enable blind and partially sighted people to independently record programmes and pause live TV on+.
The charity has designed a new text-to-speech service, utilising technology from IVONA, that will be made available on the TVonics DTR-HD500 Freeview+ HD receiver.
The technology enables blind and partially sighted people to more easily navigate the features of the Freeview+ electronic programme guide, including channel selection, recording and the functions for pausing, fast forwarding and rewinding live television.
Users can also enable audio description to verbally describe the action taking place on screen. As they become more familiar with the text-to-speech technology, they can reduce the level of guidance needed, going from 'beginner' to 'expert'.
RNIB has tailored the IVONA text-to-speech technology to the TVonics DTR-HD500's existing interface and EPG. It is being made available pre-installed in the receiver for £179.95 inc VAT from the RNIB website. The software is also being offered as a free download.
Fazilet Hadi, the group director of inclusive society at RNIB, said that the box will allow blind people to enjoy the full digital TV experience "without paying a premium".
"We were delighted to work with TVonics and IVONA to create a mainstream set top box, which is fully accessible," he said.
"This is the first box which will allow blind people to independently record programmes and pause live TV. This box will enable people with sight loss to get a great digital TV experience without paying a premium."
TVonics chief technology officer Andy Carr added: "The ease of use of our products has provided a great platform for IVONA and RNIB to build the text-to-speech technology and it's a project that we are proud to be part of."