Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Accessibility and Universal Design: The Google Way

As institutions look to take advantage of more tools and technologies to serve all students, Google gives faculty another couple of tools for their accessibility toolbox. This blog will outline three essential areas where Google has worked hard to increase accessibility for the blind community.

Google+ has been a great tool that many of us have used but the video quality has been poor. Chief Engineer, Chee Chew states that Goolge+ has been working to improve the video quality and sustainability in an effort to increase the ability for the deaf and hard of hearing population to see sign language.

How many people have been victim to the buffering monster? Or the quality of the video does not allow for sudden sharp movements? Well while these may be just a nuisance for some of us, they pose as serious barriers for the blind community where individuals need to be able to observe signing.

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Google has also been working with specific advocacy organizations for the blind to make other products more accessible such as Google Docs. The new features allow for more efficient keyboard shortcuts and support for the usages of screen readers in Google Docs, as well as Google Sites and Google Calendar. For more information about how to get started using Google Docs with a screen reader visit their website:


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Calendars are an essential time management tool for most in our current society. Now there is more accessibility for the blind community of the Google Calendar app. The calendar now supports the usage of assistive technology software for JAWS Screen Reader Software, Apple’s VoiceOver software that is built into every single Mac and Chrome’s ChromeVox screen reader application.

For information on all the new accessibility functionality visit Google’s Official Blog:

In addition, for a complete list of all the added keyboard shortcuts and more information about screen reader functionality for Google, you can find more information here:

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