People are using their devices for news and entertainment now more than ever before, and the Periscope app has become one of the most popular apps for watching live broadcasts from amateur users, as well as major companies and news websites. For today’s post, I’ll be sharing an overview of the Periscope app and how it works, as well as sharing how users with visual impairments can interact with the app and host their own broadcasts with assistive technology settings enabled.
What is Periscope?
Periscope is an app owned by Twitter that allows users to stream live audio or video broadcasts of themselves from their smartphone or tablet to an audience. Audience members can interact with hosts by sending emoticons, typing comments, or joining them through audio or video. Periscope is free to use and can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices.
The app is divided into five different sections that are accessed by tapping icons at the bottom of the screen in iOS and the top of the screen in Android, with the exception of when the user is streaming and these icons are invisible. The home screen shows a feed of broadcasts from accounts that the user follows that are happening live or from the past 24 hours. The next screen is the Explore screen, which allows users to view an interactive map of the world where streams are currently happening or a list of random streams that auto-play from all around the world (though auto-play can be disabled in settings), depending on which option the user selects. In the center is the streaming screen for users to start hosting their own broadcast, and the remaining screens are for app notifications and viewing the user’s personal profile and settings.
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Hosting a Periscope
Users have several different options for hosting a Periscope broadcast and how they want to configure it. The options available include:
- Audience type- this is set to public by default, but users can also choose to create a custom group of people they mutually follow on the app
- Periscope description- an optional text box where users can add a summary of what their broadcast is about
- Precise location sharing on/off- this uses the device’s precise location settings to show the city and state/province/country where the broadcast is from
- Enable audio-only broadcast- this means the device camera will not be used and only audio will be streamed
- Choose who can chat- users can choose whether only people who follow them can send a message in chat, or if anyone can chat
- Twitter post on/off- posts a link to Twitter at the beginning of the broadcast
- Super hearts on/off- users can choose if they want to receive super hearts or not
- Allow guests on/off- users can choose to add other broadcasters to their stream, with guests being allowed to share audio/video as well as the host
Users can only host Periscope broadcasts from within the app and can’t host from a web browser or computer.
Joining a Periscope
In order to join a broadcast, users will need to create a Periscope account, which can be linked through Twitter, Facebook, Google, or with a phone number. Users can join a Periscope broadcast from within the app by tapping on a broadcast from their home screen, the Explore screen, or by clicking a link to a broadcast from another app. Users can watch broadcasts within the app or in a web browser on their computer and interact with broadcasters by typing comments or sending hearts. They can also request to be a guest on a broadcast if the host has enabled that option.
Rewatching a Periscope broadcast
Once a broadcast ends, the host can choose to have the recording added to their profile so that users can replay it. By default, Periscopes delete 24 hours after the ending of the recording, but hosts can choose to keep the recordings up on their profile longer, or delete it at a later time. Hosts can also save recordings of their stream to their camera roll, an option that can be configured within the settings screen.
Joining a Periscope with assistive technology settings
Large print and screen magnification
The Periscope app supports the default system font on Android, but does not support Dynamic text on iOS. I was able to easily use the app with Zoom enabled on my iPad, though I recommend using the window view if possible and dragging it across the screen to read content, as I found that to be the easiest one to work with.
Based on my own testing, users can fully navigate the Periscope app using VoiceOver/Talkback without any known issues.
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Hosting a Periscope with assistive technology settings
Large print and screen magnification
The setting for a larger comment box to help make the text larger for comments was enabled for me by default, though I’m not sure if this is because the app detected I was using large print settings on my devices already. Users can easily use screen magnification if needed for the comment box or to see hearts as they show up on their broadcast.
Users can set up a broadcast using VoiceOver or TalkBack independently with the same gestures they would use for single tapping options. When I hosted a Periscope broadcast with VoiceOver or TalkBack enabled, the audio fro the screen reader did not play in the broadcast, unless I was talking at the same time as the screen reader, so there is no way for viewers to know that the host has a screen reader on.
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Veronica With Four Eyes “office hours” on Periscope
Starting on March 22, I am going to be hosting a daily audio-only Periscope broadcast from 7 PM to 8 PM eastern standard time to answer questions about visual impairment and assistive technology, with a special interest in questions related to education. The Periscope link will be automatically shared on my Twitter profile, which is linked below. These hours may be adjusted in the future, and this post will be updated if that changes.
The Periscope app is a great easy-to-use app for creating simple live broadcasts without needing to enable a bunch of different settings, and I am excited to use it for my virtual office hours for the foreseeable future. I recommend it for anyone looking to create interactive broadcasts that are easy for anyone to join.