When Directv announced that they were planning on launching a streaming service that was slated to work on the Apple TV 4th generation I was extremely excited to say the least. I thought to myself, finally, I will have access to Directv’s content in an accessible format and be able to check out what’s on tv just like everyone else. And to boot it’s super affordable too? And if you pre-pay for the service for 3 months, you get a free Apple TV too? Sign me up! Well, I guess I got a little too excited and assumed that there would be some universal design in the Directv Now app….I was wrong. Below is my review of the brand new Directv Now service from a blindness prospective.
Initial Sign Up
When you visit thE Directv Now Website the signup process is very accessible and straightforward. The only difficulty I encountered was the audio challenge process as it is a little difficult to hear the characters spoken. It is very easy to select the plans you would like and the extra add-ins for HBO and Cinemax.
Web Based Accessibility
Once you complete the sign up process you are directed to the main page which displays a list of channels and content that is currently streaming. Unfortunately, if you are using a screen reader you are presented with several unlabeled buttons alongside the list of streaming content. The buttons are so difficult to access that I required sited assistance to access the My Account screen to cancel the plan. It also appears that there are menus for adjusting the appearance of the web based application and to turn on audio descriptions and captions, however, I was also unable to access these menus.
Apple TV Accessibility
I next tested the Directv Now service on my 4th generation Apple TV. I was able to independently sign into my account and access the four tabs at the top of the screen. I was not able however to access the names of the networks available – I was only able to access the name of the shows that were currently streaming. I was also unable to figure out how to access on demand content.
Lastly, I tested the accessibility of the Directv Now application on my iPhone 6 running the latest iOS software. I was able to sign in to the application without difficulty, however this is as far as I was able to get. Once signed in the available content was displayed, however Voice Over did not recognize any of the available buttons and in fact the application turned my Voice Over volume completely down without my initiation.
The Bottom Line
As it stands now, Directv Now is not a viable streaming service for the blind and visually impaired. I was unable to effectively easily access content on any of the platforms with the exception of the Apple TV, however, this was still not a completely accessible experience. I plan on submitting this feedback to Directv and I will keep you updated on the responses that I receive.
If you have tried this service and have anything to add, please leave a comment below.