On the heels of major accessibility announcements from Twitter and Facebook, tech giant Google recently highlighted its own efforts to build a more inclusive world for people with disabilities. Here are four ways Google is working to improve the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired:
Gaining equal access to information—As part of the Google Impact Challenge the company recently awarded $20 million in grants to 29 grantees around the world. One of the grantees, the DAISY Consortium is developing industry-standard accessibility tools for publishers to ensure that every book is accessible to people with disabilities.
Getting around—Another Impact Challenge grantee is Wayfindr from the Royal London Society for Blind People, which delivers audio-based directions to users’ smartphones. Eventually, the goal is to allow people who are visually impaired to independently navigate anywhere, indoors or outdoors. Perkins School for the Blind was awarded a Google Impact Challenge grant to develop a mobile app that helps users independently locate bus stops and other very specific locations.
Improving screen readers—Now, every ChromeBook comes with a built-in screen reader called ChromeVox, which allows people with visual impairments to navigate the screen via text-to-speech output. The newest version, ChromeVox Next (beta), includes a simplified keyboard shortcut model, a new caption panel to display speech and braille output, and a new set of navigation sounds.
Creating accessible apps—The Accessibility Scanner is a new tool for Android that lets developers test their own apps and get tips on ways to enhance accessibility. For example, the tool might recommend enlarging small buttons or increasing the contrast for easier use by people with low vision.
As an organization, the American Foundation for the Blind is dedicated to creating a world (and a world wide web) that is open to everyone, and we are thrilled that tech companies are addressing the needs of the 20 million Americans who are blind or visually impaired. To learn more about our commitment to accessibility, you can google us, or read more about our commitment to accessibility on our website.