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Comcast's voice-controlled remote designed to be most accessible ever

Focusing on the needs of people with physical disabilities, telecom and cable giant Comcast just unveiled a new remote control. This isn't the first large-button remote Comcast has offered its customers. But the new design is a dramatic improvement on the previous version — a clunky third-party device that had too many buttons and lacked voice control. 

The new Xfinity Large Button Voice Remote is elegantly designed and easier to navigate, with large, backlit buttons, high-contrast colors and increased font sizes. A microphone button turns on voice control, allowing users to change channels and search for shows using spoken commands. A removable wrist strap avoids drops, and the back of the remote is flat, increasing stability when used on flat surfaces like a wheelchair tray. 

Even the device's packaging and manual were carefully rethought to make them easier to use. The remote comes in a box featuring large typography and tactile features, including braille. As soon as the user unfolds the paper manual inside, it automatically plays step-by-step instructions that help pair the remote with a television in under a minute.

Comcast's new Xfinity remote is available to customers on request and at no additional charge.

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For research and testing, Comcast worked with New Horizons, an organization that provides housing and support for people with physical disabilities. Carol Fitzgerald, CEO of New Horizons said, "Technology can help level the playing field for people with disabilities. When companies like Comcast design products and experiences with accessibility at the forefront, they not only create better products for everyone, but they also help to unlock more independence for millions of people with disabilities."

As Fitzgerald points out, the power of accessible design is that it can improve products for everyone. Take the battery compartment on Comcast's remote: instead of the usual, finicky cover, this one features a rubber pull and slides open when pressed. While that feature may have been designed for people with dexterity issues, pretty much anyone would welcome tweaks that make it easier to swap batteries on remotes and other devices.

For more on unlocking the benefits of accessible design, check out our free OMNIBILITY trend briefing.