Kodi 15.1 media centre software significantly improves accessibility features

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Thursday, 13 August 2015 11:05am

Kodi, arguably the world’s most popular open-source media centre software, has recently introduced significant accessibility improvements in its 15.1 development update.

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The media centre software, formerly known as Xbox Media Center (XBMC), is currently being updated  to include a specific accessibility section relating to video playback of captions and selectable audio streams, as well as the ability to install audio menu support.

Information on the improvements can be found in the Kodi 15.1 RC1 release notes stating the presence of “feature - Accessibility settings section - A new Accessibility section in the Settings has been added to provide a one window area to provide settings for the visually and hearing impaired.”

David Vosnacos, Access and Data Analyst at VisAbility, performed some hands-on tests and has been able to confirm the following features are listed as available:

  • A specific section for accessibility settings
  • Captioned video support adjust position, adjust font, define different caption sources
  • Audio description: ability to switch between audio streams if supported by video content
  • Screen reader support can be installed using eSpeak

While the significant improvement of accessibility features on Kodi is welcome, it is important to note that Kodi relies on community development of the product and therefore the implementation and quality of features remains a work in progress. Furthermore, while Kodi 15.1 can be downloaded, it is listed as being in a ‘release candidate’ state and at this time of writing has yet to achieve ‘stable’ status.

The Kodi media player had controversial beginnings, originally requiring a modified original Xbox for installation, but has since grown to be supported across a range of devices including Windows, OSX, Android and a number of Linux variants including the credit-card sized computer Raspberry Pi. While generally praised for its ability to play and stream almost every popular audiovisual format currently available with a wide range of add-ons for streaming services and highly customisable interface, it has until now remained largely inaccessible aside from limited caption support and large print interface skins.

The current release of Kodi and development versions can be downloaded from the Kodi website.

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