iPlayer, Accessibility and Apple TV
With the launch today of the iPlayer iPad app (poor @geofftech) I thought it was a good time to write an update on using iPlayer in the wider iOS ecosystem. I promise that this is the last time I will write about iPlayer on the Apple TV…
Please go and read it in it’s entirety. Go on, I’ll wait.
For those that didn’t go back and read it, I’ll pull out a couple of bits here. Speaking on the new Apple TV and it’s inbuilt screenreader, Voiceover: “I’m blind and it’s totally fantastic. It’s the first ever accessible set-top box I’ve had”, adding that Freeview “has taken 12 years to become accessible”.
Damon works at the BBC (he runs the BBC’s disability site, Ouch!), so he knows this area well. His concern is that it will take as long to see widespread adoption of an accessible video on demand set top box as it has for Freeview:
It would, of course, be excellent if BBC iPlayer were able to move onto this platform because, in theory, immediately up to 2 million blind and visually impaired licence fee payers could then acccess BBC on demand video if they bought the relatively inexpensive Apple TV box.
I guess the fear is that we won’t get the newly fashionable VOD services for another 12 years as with accessible DTT. Ther’es still no accessible PVR access incidentally … not any worth mentioning anyway.
Apple should be commended for their commitment to accessibility. The RNIB has gone as far as saying that Apple has “has set the standard” for device accessibility in recent years, changing the expectations of blind and partially sighted users as to what’s possible. And looking at the accessibility features on the iPhone it’s not hard to see why.
Anything the BBC can do to bring support for iPlayer to the Apple TV is not only a good thing for all licence fee payers, it’s a lifeline for those who rely on assistive technologies to watch BBC content.
Accessibility is an important subject to me. Those who know me might know that I’m blind in one eye. It’s not something that affects me on a day to day basis, but it does make me appreciate that sight is precious and it does occasionally make some things harder. It’s easy to forget that seven billion people means seven billion different experiences. We’re all unique. We all experience the same thing in a different way. It’s our responsibility as product managers, designers, developers, testers, content producers and business people to build things that are usable, accessible and magical for everyone. There is no one experience. We must be moldable to all of them.
And as for iPlayer on the Apple TV? Well, there’s potentially an answer for those who also own an iPad or an iPhone. The BBC could implement the AirPlay video APIs when they become available in iOS 4.3, which would let users stream video from an iPhone or iPad to their Apple TV. I really do hope the BBC does this, to not do would make no sense. I really do trust them to do the right thing.
And the iPad app released today? Well, apart from the lack of Nations and Local radio, it’s good. Really good. Though the BBC really does need to start treating national, nations and local content as equivalent. Thankfully this is a key part of the forthcoming changes to BBC Online. That’ll be a big step forward.
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Tags: accessibility, apple, apple tv, bbc, iplayer, software