New Vision Accessibility feature adds large Text Banner to Fire TV interface

Amazon has added a new “text Banner” vision accessibility feature to Fire TV devices to help those with “vision impairments or a limited field of view” more easily navigate the device’s interface. The new feature places a highly customizable banner on the screen with a text description of what on-screen element is currently highlighted or selected.

The new Text banner feature can be enabled and configured under Settings > Accessibility, where the Fire TV’s numerous other accessibility options exist. The feature is likely still rolling out to devices, so it may not yet be available on your device.

Once enabled for the first time, a tutorial screen appears explaining the basics of the feature. If Text Banner is enabled, holding the Play button on the remote will toggle the banner on or off. If the text in the banner is too long to fit within the banner size constraints that have been configured, the banner text can be scrolled using the Fast-Forward and Rewind buttons on the remote. To use those buttons for their regular use, the banner must first be hidden by holding down the Play button.

As noted by the tutorial text, the text banner does not work inside of all apps. It does work throughout the entire Fire TV interface and within Amazon’s own apps, such as Prime Video and IMDb TV. I found that it does not work inside of apps like Netflix and YouTube, so I expect that most 3rd-party apps are not yet providing the necessary metadata for the banner to display.

The banner itself is quite customizable. More so than I expected. The standard configuration options, such as text size and color, are present, but you can also fine-tune the size, position, opacity, and appearance of the banner itself. There are also options to select how much text detail is displayed in the banner and the delay for when the additional info appears.

The new Text Banner feature is among several accessibility features that have been added to Fire TVs in recent years that make using the streaming device a bit easier for those with impairments. While most people, fortunately, have no use for these options, it’s nice to see that time and resources are being spent to make accessibility advancements for those who need them.

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