Apple continues to push accessibility options into more of its devices. With the release of v4.1 of the iOS for AppleTV  VoiceOver was enabled. VoicOver is Apple’s screenreader technology that is wired deeply in the operating system (OS) of all of it’s devices. In the case of its second generation AppleTV, users can now select to turn on VoiceOver to hear all character information read aloud. The ability to naviagte the screen, and to hear the information about the show, movie or music track means that people with visual impairments can use the device.

While it is very effective, it does have some implementation drawbacks. Once turned on, there is no way to control when it reads alphanumeric information, it will read all the information. At the start of a song it will read the title, track number  and album over the sound of the music. If you have the slide show/screen saver set to come on while the music is playing it will reread the track information in the middle of the music. Apple needs to allow users a little control over how and more importantly when this feature works. The solution in the interim is to turn off slide shows.

Apple’s Statement

The VoiceOver accessibility feature brings screen reading to Apple TV, making it easier to use for those who are blind or have impaired vision. You will hear a description of the menu item currently being highlighted by the cursor, other onscreen text, and feedback on video and audio controls. VoiceOver speaks all 18 languages available on Apple TV.

Source: About Apple TV (2nd generation) software updates

Update: 11/25/2010

Out Of The Darkness has more information and  a user experience with AppleTV’s accessibility features.

“Apple is committed to diversity”. This statement can be found on Apple’s website and is reenforced by the multitude of no-extra-cost accessibility features found on each and every device Apple currently manufactures. Source: Of The Darkness

A worthwhile read.