Earlier this week, we looked at some improvements Google made to its Hangouts feature in Google+, specifically in terms of accessibility and sign language. They improved video quality and made it so it's easier to see signing.
Google has also been working on some other accessibility-related features for Google Docs and Google Calendar.
"This fall, as classrooms fill with the hustle and bustle of a new semester, more students than ever will use Google Apps to take quizzes, write essays and talk to classmates," says Google Accessibility technical lead T.V. Raman. "Yet blind students (like blind people of all ages) face a unique set of challenges on the web. Members of the blind community rely on screen readers to tell them verbally what appears on the screen. They also use keyboard shortcuts to do things that would otherwise be accomplished with a mouse, such as opening a file or highlighting text."
The company has been working with advocacy organizations for the blind to make its products more accessible, and has already improved keyboard shortcuts and support for screen readers in Google Docs, Google Sites and Google Calendar. On the Gmail Blog, the company provides some examples of how screen readers and keyboard shortcuts have been improved specifically in Google Calendar:
- In your calendar lists, you can use the up and down arrow keys to navigate between your calendars. For each calendar in the list, you’ll hear its name and can use the spacebar to turn the calendar on or off. To remove a calendar from the list, use the delete key.
- In the agenda view, you can use the up and down arrow keys to move between events and use the left and right arrow keys to move between dates. To expand an event and expose the event details, press enter. To go to the event details page, type ‘e’. To remove an event, press delete. Although agenda view provides the best screen reader experience today, we are also working on improved accessibility for other views.
- In the guest list on the create/edit event page, you can navigate around using the up and down arrow keys. Use the spacebar to switch a guest's status between optional and required. To remove a guest from the list, use the delete key.
- Additional keyboard shortcuts make it easier to use Google Calendar no matter which view or screen you’re on. Type ‘c’ to create an event, ‘/’ to start a search, and ‘+’ to add a calendar.
For a complete list os shortcuts and more information about screen reader functionality, you can find more info in Google's help center.
JAWS, VoiceOver and ChromeVox are all supported by Calendars.
Google says it will continue to improve products for blind users in the weeks and months ahead.