YouView update adds zoom function, other accessibility options

YouView has rolled out a software update and introduced new accessibility options that will allow TV subscribers to better zoom in and use a USB keyboard to improve the programme search process, among other things.

YouView, an on-demand set-top box, has issued a software update, called 8.1, and it brings many tweaks and improvements, such as the introduction of high-contrast mode, text-to-speech capability for the YouView App, improved zoom functionality and support for Grid 2 software.

The zoom function will notably allow users to zoom into and navigate the programme guide and select or record programmes. It works with all aspects of the programme guide.

There's also a new keyboard functionality that will primarily help disabled viewers who struggle to operate YouView with a remote control. For everyone else, the main advantage to this keyboard function is that they won't have to rely on SMS-style typing to browse on-demand content.

As for that Grid 2 software computer program, it will allow severely disabled users to better navigate YouView's programme guide. A computer running Grid 2 software can be hooked up to YouView's set-top box via an IR blaster, and this set-up will emulate the same signals as a remote control.

"We hope these accessibility updates will give a wider range of customers the means to discover great TV and radio," said Susie Buckridge, director of YouView. "We are particularly pleased with the new zoom function, which is a UK first and will give visually impaired users a much clearer user journey."

READ: YouView adds programme search to iOS app and more

YouView is an internet TV service in the UK. It launched in 2012 as a partnership between broadcasters BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and three telecommunications operators. It provides access to Freeview television and TV on demand services via a set-top box connected with a broadband connection and a television antenna.

The service's latest software update will roll out to consumer boxes in early December and will arrive on BT and TalkTalk's respective YouView services in 2014.