FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

Bored of Youtube constantly tracking you? Annoyed of the cookies banners and slow website? And the Google's more and more invasive methods of verifying age for watching videos?
FreeTube is an open-source, privacy respecting Youtube client for Linux, Mac & Windows.

Hassle-free interface, no adds, local history, subscriptions and last video position saving are just some features it provides to help you enjoy Youtube privately, without sending your data to Google.
Connecting over VPN or Tor is also supported, so you can watch completely anonymously!

Until recently, FreeTube was a great app, but with somewhat difficult accessibility making it hard to control.
Fortunately, after opening an accessibility improvements issue on the project's GitHub, one developer jumped in and did a really great job on this, making the app far better usable than it used to be.


· · Web · 2 · 3 · 3

The changes are not yet integrated into the mainline, and that's why I'm writing here.
If you're interested, you can try out the new interface and check if I didn't forget to mention something, the developer is very responsive and serious about the issue.
You can either engage directly in the pull-request discussion:
or write your suggestions to me if you don't have a GitHub account and don't want to create one.

Now, on the topic of how to try the new version.

There are no official binaries for this as of now, since the PR was not merged yet.
If you have node.js and git installed, you can however create them yourself:

$ git clone
$ cd FreeTube
$ git switch improve-accessibility
$ npm install
$ npm run build

The binaries should be located in the build folder.


If you don't have the development environment, that's fine as well. I'm providing myself compiled binaries, so everyone can just download and try.
You can get them from:

The server is not under my physical control, so, here are checksums:
AppImage: ffd20926991dfdc16c6bfdf4502b68979a516414b50b63c94e05349fd0cb468f
Deb: 441251944d898eeffc0f048f6d0472941b615851177a6a3ea3f983ad98af8ce2
RPM: 6a231763aa0f0573fb0a5f7559ef69b7e6e4fff53aa0be9f59804bffe7539839
Exe: c5383ca5a9a773dc3b363b4b64213430b5aebffee8c1cd6ea51dbbeaec7d80a7
Setup: bca76193024928698a3969c0a8c5ed7ea60bbfff9abc3b08b0dfe4e6c888cef1


Also, one additional note. Privacy is definitely fine, but there is one consequence in this case. Any video you're watching/subscribing wia FreeTube won't get your activity counted, and its author won't get the revenue from the Youtube adds.
If you have a favourite youtuber or channel which is not widely known and you'd like to support it, I recommend at least considering making an exception and watch/subscribe it from the official site, the interest can motivate the author to further production.

I guess that much for this post, happy private Youtubing!


FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@RastislavKish Admittedly I've always found FreeTube pretty accessible, but perhaps I'm just used for settling for something not entirely perfect? :ms_shrug: Either way, it should be interesting to see what things have been improved! I'll test this out in a bit. Thanks for sharing!

FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@RastislavKish OK, it looks like there are indeed quite a few improvements now! The videos in my subscription list are headings, for example. I was worried that having even more buttons would make skipping to the Play button harder, but it turns out that the player now has a landmark (though given how rarely I check for those, perhaps it had one before? Don't think so, though.)
Over all yup, a great update!

FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@Mayana Yes, there were quite a few changes. All video lists, including search results, now use headings properly. Menus, like the one of Show video options or download menu now work, you can also use subtitles (that was a problem before).
Also the comments section got buttons and treats focus correctly when you click to view more.

The only thing I'm currently not sure about is whether to request title headings (like the title of the currently opened video, or the headings of sections) to be marked as headings.

It would be proper from the semantic point of view, but I wonder if they wouldn't just be getting in way.

Also, subtitles are currently not marked as live region, so screenreaders don't read them automatically.
I like it this way, since I usually check them just occassionally, when I'm not sure about something, but if someone is watching a video in language they don't speak, that's likely different.

FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@RastislavKish I do think the titles should be headings. Makes skipping to the description easier; right now you have to scroll down through the player first, unless there's a faster way I'm missing. I don't think it would get in the way quite that much.
Subtitles being marked properly would be a good thing, too. NVDA at least does allow users to decide whether they want to hear dynamic changes, so this would give everyone the option to use subtitles as they wish. I'm not sure if Orca has the same thing though.

FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@Mayana The video frame can be skipped by jumping to the next link (K on Linux), that jumps to the channel name, which is under the video's title.
Though this is a bit hackish, so the heading may really be an appropriate solution here.

What about the other headings?
For example, when you open up a channel, the videos are marked as headings, while the channel's title at top is not (even though it has the role of a heading).

Orca has functions for controlling live regions, I'm just not quite sure how do they work. :P
Though it would make a sense to mark the region as live from semantics point of view, since, well, it's live. XD

FreeTube, a privacy focused Youtube client is getting accessibility updates 

@RastislavKish Didn't think of that! But yeah, a heading would still be more appropriate.
Hmm. I think that being a heading wouldn't be bad, either. It's not strictly necessary, but it ... feels right, you know? It could always be an H1 where as everything else is a H2, for those that remember to use the numbers.

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