Henshaws College and Jisc launch accessible YouTube website

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Henshaws College in the UK has launched an accessible version of YouTube, which was funded by Jisc through Jisc Advance. The site allows people with learning difficulties and disabilities to use this mainstream technology independently.

Access: YouTube simplifies the standard You Tube site, making it easier to search and play videos, and allows the use of assistive technologies. It is now publicly available so everyone can benefit from this accessible method.

Mike Thrussell, assistive technology coordinator, explained the challenges facing many of his students when trying to use the standard YouTube website: 'Students at Henshaws College have a range of needs from visual impairments to additional learning difficulties and disabilities.

'Our students love YouTube, but the standard site contains a lot of extra content such as adverts, comments and links which can be distracting. This makes the site difficult to navigate using assistive technologies such as screen-readers – and, as a result, some students require support to use it.'

Thrussell has spent the last 18 months developing Access: YouTube to try and overcome these issues, and allow students to use the site more independently: 'I have used large fonts, visual cues and a logical layout to improve access using assistive technologies. By simplifying the site and removing content such as adverts and comments, the website is more accessible to screen readers.'

Nigel Ecclesfield, programme manager at Jisc Advance, added: 'We are delighted to have provided the funding for the development of this wonderful tool that opens up the world of YouTube to those with visual difficulties. YouTube provides access to many exceptional educational resources and we are proud to be associated with a project that will make a real difference to the lives of many learners as they can now access these materials independently.'