Comcast works to ease TV controls for physical, speech disabilities

Jan. 20, 2022
Starting with the release of the Xfinity Adaptive Remote, a new partnership between Comcast and Team Gleason centers on innovation, development and distribution of accessible products and experiences for people with physical disabilities such as ALS.

Comcast and Team Gleason have announced a partnership "to drive inclusive innovation to improve the independence and quality of life for people with physical and speech disabilities, including those living with ALS. Together, the partners say they are "actively engaging with people with ALS (pALS) and caregivers, as well as preeminent clinicians, technologists and assistive technology partners to define and develop accessible, empowering experiences – from TV control to smart home solutions and beyond," added a joint statement from the organizations.

As noted by the announcement:

When asked to rank the technologies and experiences that are most important to them, people with ALS and other physical disabilities consistently list controlling their TV and entertainment experience independently. Team Gleason’s network of industry experts and close relationships with pALS serve as a connection for the Adaptive Remote Product team at Comcast to gain customer feedback. Together, Comcast and Team Gleason continue to shape best practices in designing for people with ALS and other physical disabilities.

The new partnership hinges on its first collaboration, i.e. the latest evolution of Comcast’s Xfinity Adaptive Remote solution. The Adaptive Remote, first launched in 2019, is an award-winning web-based remote control for Comcast's Xfinity X1 and Xfinity Flex platforms, which affords customers unprecedented control of their in-home entertainment experience.

“Our partnership with Comcast allows us to continue innovating on technology that provides people with ALS and other physical disabilities the latest in accessibility functions,” said Blair Casey, Team Gleason’s Chief Impact Officer. “We will expand awareness and usership of the Adaptive Remote, leveraging Team Gleason’s robust network of clinicians, technologists, and caregivers to give people with limited physical capabilities the ability to access Comcast's suite of technology.”

The Adaptive Remote works on any computer, smartphone or tablet by seamlessly connecting with the assistive devices that people with disabilities use and trust, including eye tracking technology, sip and puff technology, switch control technology, voice control software and more.

The Adaptive Remote platform works in any web browser without requiring any additional downloads. Users simply visit, log in their Xfinity credentials, and control any of their Xfinity devices with the assistive technology that suits them.

The partners' statement further contends:

In an industry-first, the technology offers the ability to type instead of speak voice commands—which, for many without use of their voice, is the only way to harness the power and ease of voice navigation. The latest update to the Adaptive Remote changes the game with the ability to add custom buttons that execute any action or voice command of your choice, from toggling closed captions, to “sports on now” to “front door camera,” and countless other possibilities.

“Team Gleason is incredibly proactive and uniquely connected in the disability and tech spaces,” concludes Joel Moffatt, Principal Product Manager and Engagement Lead on Comcast’s Accessibility Team. “Together, we’re able to accelerate innovation, create better experiences for everyone in the home, and bring disability perspectives to the forefront.” 

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