There are a number of budget-priced streaming media devices available which can provide multiple benefits to people with disabilities. Devices such as the Google Chromecast and Android TV-based media players provide the ability to display captioned video, audio-described video and also feature a number of other benefits particularly for people who are blind or vision impaired.
One of the best value-for-money media streaming devices is the Google Chromecast. The primary use of the Chromecast is to make it easy for people to send video such as YouTube to your television so you can watch things on a bigger screen than your smartphone or tablet. Chromecast supports streaming from a number of platforms including Android, Windows and iOS devices such as the iPhone and iPad.
The Chromecast works by plugging a small USB-style device into the HDMI port on your television. Once set up, your other devices will be able to use it.
Once both the device and the Chromecast itself are up and running, the user can go into apps such as YouTube and press the Cast option to send the video to the television. The display of captioned video is supported. Many other popular video apps on Android such as ABC iView also support Chromecast streaming.
For recent Android devices, Chromecast provides many additional benefits including the ability to mirror the Android screen. This means you can see the exact same picture on your television as you can on your smartphone or tablet. This provides significant additional benefits such as reading text on a large television that is too small to read on the screen of your device, and the ability to listen to audio such as a screen reader through the television sound equipment.
The Full HD Chromecast usually retails for around $50 and the 4K model for around $100 and is available from popular offline and online retailers.
Price: $50 (Full HD) $100 (4K)
Android TV box
In recent years, a number of manufacturers have started creating TV boxes based on the Android TV operating system. These boxes traditionally come with a remote control and provide Chromecast functionality, meaning you can either load content directly from the box or stream content to it. Android TV boxes have a similar accessibility feature set to Android smartphones and tablets, so you can turn on features like captions or the TalkBack screen reader. Some Android TV devices also support voice commands through the remote control such as the Xiaomi Mi Box which retails for about $125. This means that you can use voice control to search for content such as on Netflix or ABC iView. Prices range from about $50 from lesser-known brands through to about $200 depending on processing power, quality and storage.
Raspberry Pi with Kodi
The Raspberry Pi computer running the Kodi media centre can also provide an affordable and powerful media streaming alternative. However, significant technical knowledge is required to set up the device. More information can be found in the What’s possible? section.
The Raspberry Pi is available primarily from online retailers and costs around $50 with Kodi distributions such as LibreELEC and OSMC being available at no cost. Recent versions of Kodi include captioned video playback and the eSpeak screen reader.