[access-uk] Re: FW: A letter I wrote to sky.

  • From: "Steve Dryden" <steve.dryden@xxxxxxx>
  • To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Sun, 16 Nov 2008 16:20:42 -0000

Martin, you have raised some excellent points here. I'd be very keen to read your reply when you receive it.

To the point of a talking EPG, I wasn't aware that they were working on this. What do you or anyone else, know about this? Also, I found the sky website rather difficult last night when trying to find out about the new 24 season. I got to the sky one page and found the link to 24 redemption but when clicking on the link and going to that page, the pc froze. This happened 3 times in a row.

I think that key clicks on the sky page would be an excellent indication that an action has taken place.

I will certainly mail sky myself in support of your mail and would suggest that others do the same.

Kind regards.


----- Original Message ----- From: "martin wilsher" <m.wilsher@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
To: <access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Sent: Sunday, November 16, 2008 4:04 PM
Subject: [access-uk] FW: A letter I wrote to sky.

-----Original Message-----
From: martin wilsher [mailto:m.wilsher@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx]
Sent: 16 November 2008 12:45
To: 'access-uk@xxxxxxxxxxxxx'
Subject: A letter I wrote to sky.

HI all.  Having just got sky plus installed, I have had no end of issues
with the remote record service, so this, along with other issues I found,
prompted me to write the following letter to sky which I enclose for your

"Dear Sir/Madam:

My Name is Martin Wilsher.  Having recently upgraded to sky plus in an
attempt to enhance my sky experience, I am generally impressed with the
operation of the sky plus system.  Though, as one of your disabled
customers, I am totally blind, meaning I cannot see the sky EPG to operate
the system properly, I need to find alternative methods of programming the
box to my liking.  Now, to this end I use accessible sky TV listings, and
would use remote record, but this is broken, so I cannot use the service,
even though I am subscribed to use it.  the only way I can control the box
is to send texts at twenty five pence per time from my mobile phone, this is excluding network charges, so in the two days I've been using this system I
have unbilled usage of £10 excluding VAT on my mobile bill due to
controlling the sky box.  I have spoken to accessible customer services
regarding this matter, and that of the remote record, so I will not continue the discussion of my current problems here. My main concern is the lack of
accessibility for totally blind people when using sky plus.  There are no
indications when moving up and down the menus for example, so pressing up,
down, select, or left or right arrows does not cause a beep or any audible
tone for the blind user.  This means blind users cannot adequately use the
menus.  I feel that key clicks to tell a user when they have pressed an
arrow key, or the select key would be a small enhancement to the sky plus
menu system which, in the interim between today, and the day when we finally
get a talking EPG, which I believe is in the pipeline, would be of great
help to blind customers, as would accessibility services set to on by
default. At present, a blind customer has to get assistance with setting up audio description and the beep to tell when AD is available on a channel. I
believe this is a sorry state of affairs.  Accessibility should be a right
straight out of the box, not a privilege, as it is at the moment.  If a
blind user cannot get sighted assistance, and is not competent with use of
the remote control while someone on the end of a phone line talks them
through key presses where little feedback from the box, Is given, the blind user is stuck with a box they cannot use, as there is no talking EPG at the present time. While sky provides AD for its blind customers, I believe with
the revenue streams sky gets from loyal customers, that access for blind
users should be, and could be much improved. At the moment I am finding my
use of sky plus a very expensive experience, but I hope this, with the
rectifying of the remote record problem, should come down to the normal
costs experienced by sighted users of the sky plus system. I must say that
I am very technically minded, and will work through technical issues, but
with an aging population, and possible growing numbers of people with
moderate to total sight loss, coupled with the imminent switch to digital
television for all, sky need to urgently address all access issues to a
greater degree than they already are.  I like my sky plus box, but am not
totally uncritical as my letter to you shows.  I am young, technically
minded, and have a fair knowledge of computers and of the menu systems sky
employ, if explained to me.  Some older people might not have this
advantage.  So this letter is a plea for accessibility for elder folk as
well as me as a blind sky user.  I feel key clicks could be implemented
quickly and should be accelerated to the top of your to do list.  I
understand the talking EPG is in development, but Key clicks could be
implemented quickly and put into a software upgrade to the current sky plus
boxes.  I currently use the box by remembering the key presses I make on
various keys, but am not totally sure if the box has accepted all presses,
so it's still pot luck.  I believe the implementation of key clicks is as
important as the highlighter bar on the menus. If sighted users of sky plus suddenly found the highlighter gone from their menus, they would not be able to find their way around the sky planner and other services. This is how it
is for blind users.  Yes we have the sky music which plays when in menus,
but that is all.  There are no other cues as to where we are in the menus.
I believe, in the days of the disability discrimination act, and the so
called right of disabled people to be treated equally when accessing
services, blind people deserve a better deal from sky, as sky continue to
innervate.  Please, please do not leave blind people out of the digital
revolution. I believe blind people are given very little consideration when
new services are implemented, and feel this is morally as well as legally
wrong. I also wish to express my disappointment in the sign up process for
my sky.  This implements a visual graphical test for registrants which
entail the completion of a form by entering text into the box. This is not
accessible to screen reading software.  An alternative audio system should
be provided for blind and visually impaired customers so they can sign up
independently.  Registration for remote record via sky plus box is not
accessible either, which I feel could be improved by the use of the website to tell the box what to do. Access to sky services needs to be drastically
improved for blind users.  Thank you for reading."

Hope this provokes discussion.

Hope to hear from you soon.

From Martin.

Please email me at:



Please visit my website:


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