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TV and Radio

This page first describes a set top box which let you fully access, record and playback digital radio and television including audio description. It then describes how you can use a computer or smart phone to access TV and radio programs you might have missed or failed to record.

Accessible set top box

TVonics talking Freeview+ HD recorder - DTR-HD500.
Watch and record your favourite programmes and series at the touch of a button with this High Definition digital TV recorder. Pause and rewind live broadcasts so you'll never miss part of your TV or radio programme. Synthetic speech (female voice) reads all on-screen information including programme guides, all menus and your library of recorded programmes. The unit can simultaneously record two TV channels on its 500 gigabyte hard disk giving up to 175 hours of recorded TV programs. YOU can watch and record programs with audio description which is now available on most new TV programs. Audio description tells you about on-screen action, scenery, and body language between dialogue. Even fully sighted people find this useful when viewing modern dramas with complicated and confusing flashbacks! The unit comes with an easy to use remote control with buttons enabling you and other family members to easily turn the audio features including audio description on and off. It costs £180 including VAT but is currently on special offer at £153.

Watching missed programs on your computer

If you have an Apple Macintosh computer we recommend
Get iPlayer Automator.
This free application works with all BBC, ITV and Channel 4 TV programs and all BBC radio programs. YOu enter one or more words which are in the title of the program of interest into a search string. Get iPlayer automator then returns a list of all TV and radio programs whose titles include those words. YOu then select the desired program(s) and them to a download queue and when done ask Get iPlayer Automator to action the download queue. The programs are downloaded into a folder on your computer from where you can easily play them using iTunes. Once in iTunes it is easy to transfer the downloaded programs to an iPod or iPhone or iPad or Apple TV so you can watch them on the go or on your television. The Get iPlayer Automator app is fully accessible using VoiceOver.

You can use iTunes to listen to Internet radio around the world on your Macintosh computer. Ensure that radio is selected as a valid iTunes source in the the iTunes preferences. You then select radio in the sources table which gives you a list of genres to choose from. You expand the desired genre and look therein for your desired radio station.

If you have an Apple iPhone or iPad or iPod Touch there are several applications on the iTunes App Store which are accessible to VoiceOver and which enable you to watch missed television programs and to listen to missed radio programs. Some of these applications also let you listen to digital radio from around the world. Here are some of the ones we have tried, but there are others!

  • BBC iPlayer for iPhone , iPod touch and iPad on the iTunes App Store.
    The free BBC iPlayer app now lets you stream or download radio and TV programmes to watch on the move over wifi or the mobile phone network. YOu can also catch up on the past seven days. You first choose TV or radio. You then choose the desired channel and the desired day which displays the schedule for that channel on that day. YOu then choose the desired program which you can stream to watch immediately or which you can download to watch later, perhaps when you are out of range of your broadband wifi network. It all works well with VoiceOver.

  • ooTunes radio recording and alarm clock.
    The ooTunes radio app gives you access to over 32,000 Internet radio stations around the world. YOu can choose your desired station by genre (150 of them) or country or city or by station name. You can record what you are listening to and you can set up schedules to record stations at any time of day or night. YOu can set an alarm clock to wake you up with a desired radio station. This app cost £2.99.

There are versions of the above BBC iPlayer App and the ooTunes Radio App for the Android platform. As the author has no experience of Android smart phones he cannot comment on how accessible these Apps are to visually impaired people.

If you have a Windows computer with a full function screen reader such as JAWS or Window-Eyes you can go to the BBC iPlayer web page from where you can access and play BBC TV and radio programs you have missed, including TV programs with audio description. This also works with the latest version (2012.3) of the free NVDA screen reader.
Page last modified: November 2012

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