Google Announces Bevy Of Accessibility Improvements

Google Announces Bevy Of Accessibility Improvements

Google is releasing a plethora of accessibility upgrades, as well as new initiatives to help people with impairments create content online.

The internet behemoth has announced that it will improve functionality for those with blindness or low vision, cognitive disability, and physical accessibility needs.

The business is also introducing a six-month fellowship program for disabled influencers, as well as contributing $5 million in a fund to support NGOs that make coding and computer science education more accessible to kids with impairments.

“Our commitment to disability inclusion and accessibility doesn’t stop with our products,” wrote Laura Allen, Google’s head of strategy and programs, accessibility, and disability inclusion, in a post announcing the offers. “We believe in supporting people with disabilities across all sectors and industries.”

The Google Rising Influencer with Disabilities fellowship features 15 participants from the United States and Canada who will be mentored by experienced influencers, learn from industry leaders, and connect with Google product teams.

The new investment fund will target groups that use Blockly, a Google open-source library, to “develop and implement inclusive tools and curricula,” according to Allen. “By helping tailor experiences to students with diverse learning styles and abilities, these nonprofits can support the important work to ensure all students can participate fully in the digital world and gain foundational computing skills.”

Google announced that product upgrades will include a new option for Lookout, an Android feature that allows individuals who are blind or have low vision to use their phone’s camera to learn about what’s in front of them. The “find mode” feature, which is in testing, notifies users about the direction and distance of objects in seven categories, including seating, tables, and bathrooms.

Meanwhile, Look to Speak, an Android app that allows users to speak pre-written phrases selected with their eyes, will include a text-free option with voice activated based on customizable emojis, symbols, and photographs.

Google Maps is also improving its screen reader capabilities, allowing users to hear the names and types of nearby places, as well as their distance. In addition, sophisticated voice assistance provides audible alerts to let users know if they’re on the proper track, being diverted, or crossing a major intersection, Google Stated.

In addition, Maps will now provide a wheelchair icon on desktop computers to indicate whether a location is wheelchair accessible. Previously, the emblem appeared solely on mobile devices.