Hey, My console is talking!

I have always loved video games. I won’t ramble on about my past as a gamer as other articles have done this. I’ve had an interest in all things gaming since I was at least 4. I was always on the outside looking in due to the lack of access. As console’s became more complex they became harder to use. It used to be as simple as plug in a game, hit power, start playing. Now consoles of today have complex and dynamically changing menu structures. this following post will summarize what sony is up to along with my experiences using the ps4.

Today Sony launched a broad suite of accessible options including tts, zoom, contrast, and button remapping for those with physical impairments. I can only speak on the tts as that is what I primarily use.

Let’s go back slightly and talk about the overall setup process. As I write this, my PS4 has been in my hands all of 24 hours. Setting it up was simple since I was able to procure some eye balls. Enter my account information, verify my email, set some privacy settings. I was set.
the ps4 dashboard is actually fairly simple. A row of options on the bottom which shows your previously played games, music, TV, a browser, an app and game library. Pressing up takes you to an upper section which holds things like friends, trophies, messages, settings and power. We spent the evening messing around with a couple apps and cuing Injustice for download.

This morning, the 2.5 firmware was released adding the functions stated above. I was up bright and early and was able to get my grandma to help read some basic options. The update went smoothly and 2.5 was running. I found accessibility settings easily enough. it’s two up from the bottom in settings. The first option is text to speech. I pressed x on it, pressed x again to enable it, and then.. Well… Nothing.

I was very confused at first. Where was my text to speech? Enabling text to speech offered me options for both rate and volume. these options produced spoken feedback, so why wasn’t I hearing menus? Did I have something plugged in messing with speech? Was my theme causing problems? Well… No. It turns out that contrary to the release notes, text to speech only works inside of messaging and party chat. For reference, here is the line from the release notes.

Text-to-speech for all graphical user interface, including Message and Party.

The keyword of course here is all. Which sony hasn’t delivered on. I was very disappointed to see that I wouldn’t have global access to system menus, but then I decided to look on the bright side. For the first time I could actually interact with friends on my console. I quickly bounced off a message to Brandon Cole. “Hi my name is Liam.” A very simple message, but I wrote it independently using the on-screen keyboard. It then got me to thinking. Could I start a party with a couple of friends and play Injustice? In other words, could I destroy Brandon Cole in fighting games? I guess only time will tell. For now, we have the basics of what could be an extremely powerful solution so long as Sony keeps adding to it.

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