American Foundation for the Blind Announces 2013 Access Award Winners

Apr 17, 2013, 10:00 ET from American Foundation for the Blind

AT&T, Regal Entertainment Group, Panasonic, RNIB, and Best Buy lauded for accessible design

NEW YORK, April 17, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- This spring, AT&T*, Best Buy, Panasonic, Regal Entertainment Group and the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), will be honored with a 2013 Access Award from the American Foundation for the Blind for improving access to a variety of entertainment options, including television, movies, and radio.

"This year's Access Award recipients are leveling the playing field for the more than 20 million Americans with vision loss by increasing access to current events and pop culture," said Carl R. Augusto, president and CEO of the American Foundation for the Blind. "We are honored to publicly recognize these organizations for their commitment to accessibility."

Chosen annually by the American Foundation for the Blind, the Access Award honors individuals, corporations and organizations that eliminate or substantially reduce inequities faced by people with vision loss.

About the 2013 Access Award Recipients:

AT&T's new U-verse® Easy Remote App makes it easy for customers, including those with disabilities such as vision and hearing loss, to control their TV through an iPhone or iPad. AT&T U-verse is the first major TV provider to allow customers to use voice remote control capabilities. The app was built with a commitment to universal design and utilizes AT&T Watson(SM) speech recognition technology via AT&T's Speech API, which uses advanced natural language processing to recognize and understand spoken words. 

Best Buy
Best Buy's Insignia Products team developed a sleek, new fully accessible HD FM digital radio called the Narrator. The radio, marketed to mainstream audiences, also incorporates access to most key features through an optional setting that includes audio feedback. Access to channels clock and alarm is provided in clear, digitized human speech delivered as a female voice.

As the result of a very effective collaboration with RNIB, Panasonic announced in 2012 the availability of 30 television models in the United Kingdom offering accessibility via a system called "Voice Guidance." Built in as standard, and at no additional cost, customers who are blind or visually impaired can now choose channels and programs using the speaking electronic program guide (EPG) and menus. Similar models will soon be made available in the United States.

Regal Entertainment Group
Regal Entertainment Group is the first movie theater chain to offer cutting-edge technology on a national scale to assist moviegoers who are blind or visually impaired. Regal is currently working to equip all digital cinema locations with technology to allow viewers to partake of captioning and video description when available.

Along with advising Panasonic, RNIB has offered instruction from RNIB volunteers, as well as braille, large-print, and audio CD instructions for operating Panasonic's Talking Viera models. RNIB has also invested considerable resources to advance the development of accessible TV. This includes working with industry and broadcasters to achieve very high levels of video description, available on all the main TV services.  And more talking equipment options, such as the accessible HD digital TV recorder from TVonics; the Smart Talk Freeview digital box with built-in speech to announce on-screen information; and the Sky Talker, which provides access to the U.K. Sky satellite service.

Previous award recipients include Apple, Inc., Google, the CBS Television Network, and Major League Baseball. The 2013 Access Awards will be presented to the recipients on April 19, 2013, at the AFB Leadership Conference in Chicago, IL.

*AT&T products and services are provided or offered by subsidiaries and affiliates of AT&T Inc. under the AT&T brand and not by AT&T Inc.  Geographic and service restrictions apply to AT&T U-verse services. Call or go to to see if you qualify.

About AFB
The American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) is a national nonprofit that expands possibilities for people with vision loss. AFB's priorities include broadening access to technology; elevating the quality of information and tools for the professionals who serve people with vision loss; and promoting independent and healthy living for people with vision loss by providing them and their families with relevant and timely resources. Headquartered in New York, AFB is proud to house the Helen Keller Archives and honor the more than 40 years that Helen Keller worked tirelessly with AFB.

SOURCE American Foundation for the Blind