Keyboard control for YouView boxes is rolling out

Big accessibility changes bring enhanced features

Keyboard control for YouView boxes is rolling out

People with YouView will soon be able to use a USB keyboard to control their set-top boxes, with a raft of accessibility updates also bringing extra functionality for all.

The important arrival of accessibility features include high-contrast screens, text to speech on the YouView App and a big overhaul of the Zoom features as well as allowing the boxes to work with Grid 2 software.

But YouView also showed off the keyboard functionality - which has been designed for the motion impaired to use special keyboards in lieu of the often tricky remote control.

Advanced Zoom on the way
Advanced Zoom - on the way

It's brilliant additional functionality, in line with the BBC Trust demands as part of the YouView partnership, but it also holds a wider advantage to consumers, allowing normal keyboards that run through USB - be it a dongle or cable - to be used instead.

That's likely to prove popular to those who grind their teeth every time they have to use their classic remote to search for a programme.

The update rolls out to the consumer boxes next week and to BT and TalkTalk boxes in 2014.

Grid 2 implementation
Grid 2 implementation

The inclusion of major improvements to the system for blind and partially sighted customers as well as those with motor skill and cognitive impairment is impressive, particularly a clever implementation of the Grid 2 software that allows navigation using a single button.

The system itself is not without teething troubles, but it does work, dividing the screen into grids and allowing you to narrow down your options with a button press until you can choose what you want.

High contrast UI for those who struggle to pick out the detail
High contrast UI - for those who struggle to pick out the detail

Also being displayed to journalists was a proof of concept idea allowing the use of an Xbox controller instead of a remote control, although this relies on some homebrew kit and a Raspberry Pi currently so is likely to appeal to a niche of a niche.

Speaking about the improvements, Steve Tyler, Head of Innovation and Development at the Royal National Institute for the Blind praised YouView's efforts and explained that a big advantage of making the accessibility features available for all allowed those who did not think of themselves as disabled to enable the functionality without any fuss.

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