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Google’s Intent on Fostering Net Access for Disabled

  • October 22, 2009
  • Bruce Bromley

Search engine giant and Net neutrality cheerleader Google wants everyone to be able to enjoy all the wonders of the Internet, and in between all its other thousands of projects, it’s making a serious commitment to making the Internet as accessible as possible.

Advanced Web designs and tools and browser add-ons can pose irksome challenges to Internet users who are disabled, whether they’re dealing with poor eyesight, finger dexterity issues or deafness. Just consider, for a moment, how much Internet use requires typing, decent eyesight and capable mouse use, and not every site or online operation is taking the needs of the disabled into account.

Google has been working for years on enabling development kits and software so programs can be more accessible and just launched a formal Web site to house news and information on what’s up when it comes to information access efforts.

According to the Official Google Blog, the goal is to “make the world’s content available to people with disabilities,” whether that’s visual impairment, blindness, color deficiency, hearing loss or physical dexterity issue.

“According to the United Nations, 650 million people live with a disability, which makes them the world’s largest minority,” states the blog.

Google’s already developed a talking RSS reader for the open source Android mobile platform and its technical development work has included innovations in making usability enhancements into social networking applications.

And, as usual, Google wants your feedback on its efforts to foster greater access.

“Around here, we often say, ‘launch early and iterate’ — meaning, get something out the door, get feedback, and then improve it. In that tradition, our accessibility website is pretty simple, and we expect this site to be the first of many iterations. We’re excited about the possibilities. The thing we’re most excited about is getting your feedback about Google products and services so we can make them better for the future. Take a look and let us know what you think,” writes Jonas Klink, accessibility product manager, in the blog posting.