Monday, 21 May 2012 22:54

Talking Bush a boon to blind TV watchers in Australia

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If you’re blind, or vision impaired, but you still want to get the most out of Australia’s multitude of digital free-to-air TV channels, Bush Australia’s brand new talking set-top-box  won’t leave you lost for words.

Finally, Australia’s much maligned Federal Government has actually done something we can all easily agree is extremely worthwhile – doing something truly useful for blind and/or vision impaired people who want to more easily enjoy the benefits of digital television broadcast.

Given that setting up a digital TV set-top-box can be difficult even for some fully sighted people, the move to make it as easy as possible for the blind or vision impaired to enjoy digital TV can only be applauded, something that Bush Australia, a maker of set top boxes, PVRs and digital radios is also doing towards the aforementioned Feds.

Thanks to assistance from the Federal Government, and from Vision Australia, Bush Australia’s set top box uses “state of the art text to speech technology and compatible with all existing televisions”, so that “using the on-screen menus, the electronic program guide and help screens” is something that’s “simple for users to navigate with accurate voice confirmation of all functions”.

Stephen Conroy, Australia’s otherwise erstwhile and well-meaning Minister for Communications, stated that “As part of this commitment, I am pleased to announce that talking set-top boxes are now to be integrated into our Household Assistance Scheme and rolled out with the Digital Switchover program in the future.”

I’m personally happy to state this development is the absolute best thing the Minister has done in his entire career, and the one thing I’ll remember him most for, proving that even the most ineffective and otherwise disappointing government Ministers can sometimes actually do incredibly useful things for the most deserving in our society today.  

Bush Australia notes in its press release that “Several leading technologies have been incorporated into the Bush Talking Television HD Set Top Box and during the consultative process with Vision Australia a ‘key learn’ mode was developed which helps the user learn the functionality of the remote control via voice prompts provided by the box”, clearly ensuring the new box’s true usefulness to the blind and vision impaired.

Daniel Todd, MD of Bush Australia stated in conclusion that: “Bush is a leading developer in set top box and PVR technology and this latest collaboration with Vision Australia makes us proud to be able to provide digital television accessibility to all Australians.”

Available now for a “suggested retail price” of AUD $199, the model number and specifications are as follows:

BUSH Talking Television HD Set Top Box: Model - BHAS03

Australia’s First Talking Set Top Box
Designed with assistance from Vision Australia
Talking Key Learn Mode
Talking Main Menus and Installation Screens
Talking Electronic Program Guide
Talking Help Screens
Audio Description Compatible
Learning Remote Control Controls STB and main TV functions
Audible feedback for remote control commands
Low battery indication on screen
Receives all High Definition Digital Channels (MPEG4)
HDMI Output Support to 1080P Full HD
Front Headphone Socket allows AD and or/main TV audio to be heard via headphones
One button press for Closed Captions, Audio Description and Talking Features
Connect to ANY TV via Component, Composite, HDMI or RF Modulator
Digital Audio via SPDIF Coaxial Output
Parental Control and Auto Standby
USB media player function supports photos, music and video playback
LED Display

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Alex Zaharov-Reutt

One of Australia’s best-known technology journalists and consumer tech experts, Alex has appeared in his capacity as technology expert on all of Australia’s free-to-air and pay TV networks on all the major news and current affairs programs, on commercial and public radio, and technology, lifestyle and reality TV shows. Visit Alex at Twitter here.

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