As a totally blind user who is familiar with Voiceover on all Apple products, I have long thought about the accessibility of the Apple TV; and how it works with Voiceover. Recently my wife and I purchased the Apple TV, and it’s now our main device for viewing live and on-demand content. All a person needs is unlimited broadband.
What is Apple TV?
It is a little set-top box which connects to your wifi and a TV, allowing users to stream, download or mirror content from another device on the same network to the Apple TV. The latest version also comes with the Siri remote, which is a small rechargeable remote with 5 buttons in the centre, and a trackpad at the top. The trackpad can be physically pressed down to perform a selection, which is great for Voiceover users as standard gestures can be used to navigate content using the trackpad. All buttons are clearly spaced and are easy to identify with Voiceover running.
Layout of the Siri remote
Holding the remote with the charger connecter nearest to you, the layout of the buttons are as follows. From the bottom left Moving up to the top we have the play/pause button, the Siri button, and the menu button. On the right moving to the top we have the volume down/up, and the home button. Above the buttons is the trackpad, near the top of the remote. The home button also is used to access the app switcher, and to power off the device.
Setting up Apple TV with Voiceover
Once the set-top box is connected and powered on, press the menu button 3 times quickly to switch on Voiceover. You can then use standard gestures to select a language and time zone, and enter your apple ID information or create a new account. Typing on the Apple TV is time consuming, as users need to scroll to each letter and select it. For this reason it will be easier to download the ‘remote’ app to your iOS device, where you can type your information using the standard QWERTY keyboard. Don’t forget you can press the trackpad down, where you will feel a click to confirm a selection, rather than performing a double-tap which is the normal method of selecting items with Voiceover.
Using the Apple TV
The home screen of the apple TV will typically have the default films, TV programmes, settings, search and computers apps. You will also find the app store to install other apps to your apple TV. Some examples of apps might be:
BBC iPlayer, Now TV and many others depending on what you require. You can navigate the home screen by making a single finger flick up, down, left or right; and then press down on the trackpad to open an app. Navigating apps is done in a similar way, and selecting a programme from a list will commence playback.
Security and parental controls
If like me you are concerned about young eyes and ears being exposed to content they shouldn’t be, Apple TV comes with parental controls which restrict access to Siri, apps, purchases and programmes by guidance rating. It is also possible to set a passcode for anyone who wants to mirror content to the Apple TV.
Sharing with others
The Apple TV by default allows you to add multiple accounts, this is so that other members of your family or organisation can access and use the TV. It is also possible to quickly turn on, or off Voiceover for sighted users to access their content. Simply just ask Siri to ‘turn off’ or ‘turn on Voiceover’.
Another option is to set up the ‘triple click home’ accessibility shortcut, which is available on all iOS and Apple TV devices. This option allows users to press the menu button on the Siri remote, or the home button on iOS devices 3 times quickly to switch on or off a preferred accessibility option. In order to do this go to: Settings, General, Accessibility, and select ‘accessibility shortcut’. Enjoy your Apple TV.