Some tricks for short-sighted Linux users

We discuss some tricks to make things easier for the visually impaired.

My experience of just over half a century without seeing three on a donkey authorizes me to affirm that we are living in a golden age for people with visual impairment. However, since not everything is perfect, let's go with some tricks for short-sighted Linux users.

Increasingly larger screens, dark themes and e-book readers came to make our lives easier. However, some online services require us to use their own players or reading software, and their accessibility options are usually limited. Luckily, free software comes to our rescue.

Tricks for short-sighted Linux users

Videos and subtitles

The size and color scheme of subtitles on streaming platforms like Youtube do not have as many options as desktop video players. and they may not be enough for those of us who suffer from visual disabilities. Although downloading the videos and using other players is not allowed, I think it is justified in this case.

There are several tools that we can use to download videos from streaming platforms (We are talking about the free ones, not those that use the subscription model). Or, to put it another way, those in which it is the users who upload the content.

For this article I choose YT-DLP. It is a program that is used from the terminal and allows us to download video, audio and subtitles from various platforms. Unfortunately, except for YouTube, there is no complete list of sites with which it is compatible, so we will have to test site by site.

This program is usually found in the repositories of the most popular distributions. But, in any case, manual installation is best as it allows us to access more current versions.

We can do the manual installation with:

sudo wget -O /usr/local/bin/yt-dlp

sudo chmod a+rx /usr/local/bin/yt-dlp

These two commands install the program, tell the system where to find it, and give it access permission to the folder where it is hosted.

We must ensure that we have the most current version using the command:

yt-dlp -U

The basic command for downloading videos is

yt-dlp <dirección del video>



To download multiple videos, the addresses separated by spaces must be specified.

yt-dlp <dirección del video1> <dirección del video2>

If the videos are part of the same playlist we can download them with:

yt-dlp -i --yes-playlist <dirección de la lista>

To download the video in the highest quality available we write:
yt-dlp -f best <dirección del video>

We can verify that the videos have subtitles available in our language with:

yt-dlp --list-subs <dirección del video>

This will give us a list of subtitles, pay attention to the first column because it will indicate the parameter that we must place in the following command:

yt-dlp -S xx <dirección del video>

Where xx is the parameter indicated in the first column of the subtitle list.

This command downloads the video and subtitles. If we want only the subtitles we must write:

yt-dlp -S xx  --write-sub <dirección del video>

Youtube has a very good collection of audio books. It is possible to download them with:

yt-dlp -x --audio-format mp3 <dirección de video o lista de reproducción>

YT-DLP is experimenting with downloading live streaming videos. The commands are these:

yt-dlp ‐‐live‐from‐start <dirección del video>

Download the stream from the beginning.

yt-dlp ‐‐no‐live‐from‐start <dirección del video>

Download the stream from the current moment.

We can see the list of complete commands with:

man yt-dlp

Yt-DLP is not the only tool we can use, but it is the easiest to use. Additionally, YouTube tends to pay much more attention to blocking browser extensions than command line programs. However, take a look at VideoDowloadHelper, is Available for Firefox and Chrome derivatives. It usually works with sites that YT-DLP does not support.

In the next article we will dedicate ourselves to how to make reading electronic books more pleasant.

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