Blind Bargains

Roku Adds Audio Guide to Streaming Players in Latest Update though Much Remains Inaccessible


Roku, makers of the most popular line of streaming media players, has added a basic Audio Guide feature in its latest update. Version 7.5 allows the user to navigate through menus, adjust settings, and load some of the many channels available, though users report that accessibility in this initial release is spotty at best.

Supported models, include the Roku Ultra 4640X, Premiere+ 4630X, Premier 4620X, Express+ 3710X, Express 3700X, and the Roku Streaming Stick 3600X. Many Roku-powered TV's will also feature the new update. The 7.5 update is rolling out in stages, and not all models have access to it at the moment. Models before 2016 will not support the Audio Guide feature.

As mentioned above, the new feature provides spotty and inconsistent accessibility and only works in a small number of the available channels. Twitter user @tomi91 reports that a small selection of channels including Hulu and Amazon Video are working but many others including Netflix and Sling are completely unusable. Also, sighted assistance will often be required for setup for the moment, as many units are still shipping with an older version of the firmware and will not be updated to 7.5, a process that is not accessible. If version 7.5 or later is loaded, you can press the Star button on the remote 4 times to activate the feature.

Roku is the most popular brand of streaming player according to this 2016 report and the Roku Express is available for under $30 while the streaming stick is a $50 item. Expanding accessibility for these models will give more affordable access choices for users. Here's a link to the Roku 7.5 Release Notes.

Category: News
Displaying 5 comments.
gallagher123123 Wednesday, 30-Nov-2016 3:43 PM ET:

Wow, very glad to see Roku jump on the accessibility bandwagon. Now all three major streaming devices are accessible. It would be interesting to hear a demo. I wonder what TTS it is using? Very glad to see this happen.


darknexus Monday, 05-Dec-2016 11:05 AM ET:

The true question now is will we see improvement? Or will it end up stagnating for twelve years like Narrator did?


musical Sunday, 01-Jan-2017 3:15 PM ET:

ok. so as one learning of this news, i had a chance to test the uoku streaming stick myself. the story is that much remains to be made accessible. i find that based on the user, that is not particularly true. in my opinion, an app that is not usable, is an app that had a screen that doesn't have the ability to even read a log in screen. sling tv does not fall in this direction for roku. it seems that it may have the ability to be made more accessible verses not usable at all such was the cases in apps such as netflix and starz movies app. however with that being said, there is plenty to do on there that remains different but quite accessible. if you don't care about paying for subscriptions but want free movies and don't care about advertisement, crackle, is quite accessible aas for several other apps that are quite accessible with audio guide. while improvements may need to be made, most people need to keep in mind that roku, like any other is providing a program providing spoken feedback for blind and visually impaired users to use there products. they however have nothing to do with how accessible netflix, or any other service or app will work with the program. so while people are claiming that much improvements are need for accessibility there, i disagree. you need to right the companies of the apps. thats not roku's fault nore is it apples or androids etc, if something is not accessible with a screen reader program they provide. yes they can keep program up to date but they have nothing to do with the inerface of what third party companies decide to use for there apps and rather they are accessible or not.


musical Sunday, 01-Jan-2017 3:24 PM ET:

ok. so as one learning of this news, i had a chance to test the roku streaming stick myself. the story is that much remains to be made accessible. i find that based on the user, that is not particularly true. in my opinion, an app that is not usable, is an app that had a screen that doesn't have the ability to even read a log in screen. sling tv does not fall in this direction for roku. it seems that it may have the ability to be made more accessible verses not usable at all such was the cases in apps such as netflix and starz movies app. however with that being said, there is plenty to do on there that remains different but quite accessible. if you don't care about paying for subscriptions but want free movies and don't care about advertisement, crackle, is quite accessible as for several other apps that are quite accessible with audio guide. while improvements may need to be made, most people need to keep in mind that roku, like any other is providing a program providing spoken feedback for blind and visually impaired users to use there products. they however have nothing to do with how accessible netflix, or any other service or app will work with the program. so while people are claiming that much improvements are need for accessibility there, i disagree. you need to right the companies of the apps. thats not roku's fault nore is it apples or androids etc, if something is not accessible with a screen reader program they provide. yes they can keep program up to date but they have nothing to do with the inerface of what third party companies decide to use for there apps and rather they are accessible or not.


vinkydink@aol.com Thursday, 02-Feb-2017 4:54 PM ET:

Wouldn't it be great if the closed caption was being read over plug in headphones, this way a sighted person could enjoy watching the same show with the visually impaired person, both enjoying without infringing on the other. Just dreaming


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J.J. Meddaugh is an experienced technology writer and computer enthusiast. He is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a major in telecommunications management and a minor in business. When not writing for Blind Bargains, he enjoys travel, playing the keyboard, and meeting new people.


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