Accessible YouTube

Have you ever thought about Internet ads and screen readers? Honestly, I hadn’t, until recently. I attended ALT-C, a conference organised by the Association of Learning Technology. One session dealt with the topic of accessible websites. And so I learned that ads and comments make it difficult for screen readers to correctly read website content. What are the implications for people with visual impairments? Basically, when they have to access websites full of ads and comments, they have a hard time finding information. YouTube is an example of a popular site used for learning purposes (number two in the tools for learning list created by C4LPT) that is currently full of ads and distracting elements.

YouTube main page -- Ads, popular videos, recommended videos, recommended channels...
YouTube main page — Ads, popular videos, recommended videos, recommended channels…

Aiming to help visually impaired people, Henshaws College, supported by JISC, developed an accessible website to search and watch YouTube videos: Access: YouTube. It is essentially YouTube, stripped of ads and comments. It is a simple, plain, screen reader friendly website, available under a CC licence. It is also useful for people with learning disabilities, as it helps them stay focused on what they are watching.

Access: YouTube main page
Access: YouTube main page — See the difference?

I am glad someone thought about this. Doing a simple search, I could see the difference. Even more, I am now fully aware of the bunch of unrelated information I get from YouTube. It is easy now to understand why I can be writing a blog post about accessible websites, and end up buying tea and researching about the political situation in Israel (yes, I guess I am bound to be influenced by constant ads.. also, I am a curious person). So, thanks, Henshaws College, JISC and all the people that contributed to the creation of Access: YouTube.

Searching for “learning” videos on YouTube… The first two hits are non-related ads. At the right, another ad.
Conducting the same “learning” search in Access: YouTube… all relevant hits.

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