Keyboard control for YouView boxes is rolling out

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.