American Action Fund for Blind Children and Adults
Future Reflections Special Issue: The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) STEM
by Amy Mason
From the Editor: For blind students the proliferation of technology in today's classrooms can be a blessing or a curse, or a bit of both at once. Fortunately the National Federation of the Blind has developed a partnership with Google to ensure that the company's increasingly popular hardware and software will not pose barriers for blind students. In this article Amy Mason provides a detailed description of the Chromebook and G Suite, explaining their accessible features and the areas that are not yet fully accessible. Amy is an access technology specialist with the National Federation of the Blind.
Education changes how we use technology, and technology changes how we educate. One of the clearest examples of this reality is the use of Google in the classroom. Within the past decade, Google products and services have transformed how students and teachers interact. In return, the education market has been responsible for changing and educating Google as well.
When the Google Docs Productivity Suite (now called the G Suite) was introduced into education, it was quickly adopted by a large number of schools at the K-12 and postsecondary levels. In response to early concerns raised by blind and low-vision users, the National Federation of the Blind diligently sought to work with Google toward improvements for those users. Google and the National Federation of the Blind jointly recognized a number of needs and opportunities to improve the G Suite's accessibility. We have been partners ever since, keeping open lines of communication and regularly discussing feedback. Over the past years this collaboration has resulted in significant improvements to the G Suite, Chromebooks, and the ChromeVox screen reader.
Given the major improvements Google has made to the accessibility of its hardware and software, how well will these products meet the needs of your blind child or student? This article is intended to provide you with the information you need as you decide whether to introduce these tools and to help you build a strategy for using them if appropriate.
A few caveats must be considered when a parent or teacher considers including Google's tools in the education of blind students. Whether or not the school is using the Chromebook, or merely using the G Suite on another platform, it is important to remember that this system may be very different from systems that the blind student has been taught in the past. Keyboard shortcuts, command structure, and other basic screen reader interactions in the G Suite differ from some familiar desktop or web navigation patterns. The student will have to spend some time getting up to speed on how to navigate, edit, and read documents. Students who are introduced to lots of new ways of dealing with technology and are taught how to learn software can further develop confidence in their ability to learn new computer-based skills in the future. However, these differences are likely to make the tools challenging to introduce quickly to students who have not been expected to learn this way in the past.
All of our technology tools are in constant states of growth and evolution, and this change happens faster than many of us are used to. This is especially true for Google's products, so students inevitably will see changes in the ways the system works over time. On the plus side, this can mean the addition of new features that improve accessibility. However, it also means that at times the student may find that a feature has changed and no longer works in the accustomed manner.
Technology has provided millions of people with a whole new world of access to information, but it isn't always 100 percent dependable. Issues in the assistive technology, the app, the browser, or the operating system may even cause things to break down from time to time. It's important to teach students to be flexible and adaptable, and to arm them with best practices for troubleshooting, including being conversant with multiple screen readers. Each student will find his or her preferred options. With a variety of tools available, students can choose alternative paths and keep moving forward when things don't go as planned.
Finally, I want to add a note for deaf-blind students and others who rely on refreshable Braille displays when using a computer. Although some G Suite apps currently offer partial Braille support, it is not robust enough to be used as the primary mode of interaction. This limitation also presents major problems for students who are in the process of learning Braille. Google is actively working to improve the quality of its support for refreshable Braille. This is a great time for adventurous Braille users and proponents to try the current implementation and provide Google with feedback.
Despite these caveats, the Chromebook and G Suite offer a lot of advantages. There is a definite learning curve, but in most cases it is worthwhile for students and teachers to get up to speed on their features.
The Chromebook is a laptop-style computer that runs the Chrome Operating System (ChromeOS). Chromebooks are primarily designed to remain connected to the internet. They run cloud-based apps, usually found and used in the browser, instead of traditional desktop software. Users cannot install programs they would traditionally use with Windows or Mac, including third-party screen readers such as JAWS or NVDA). They must use the accessibility features of ChromeOS, including the ChromeVox screen reader, with these tools in the browser.
Chromebook sales now account for more than half of all devices sold to US classrooms. Chromebooks are widely used in both one-to-one device-to-student models and as shared devices across classrooms. *1 It is possible to have multiple user accounts per Chromebook, and settings are saved at the account level. Users can sync settings, bookmarks, browsing histories, apps, Chrome extensions, and more so that any time they sign into their account, on any Chromebook, they will automatically be brought into their customized experience. This is certainly a benefit for blind students, as it is now possible for them to use any Chromebook they are offered and have their accessibility preferences available upon login, without worrying that their own device may be out of commission. Although some local storage is available on the Chromebook, the main intention is to store documents in the cloud, using Google Drive, Google's cloud storage platform. If the user is logged into her account on any device, she can edit her files from anywhere.
*1 See NBC, written by Harriet Taylor. Accessed on 1/18/2017. URL: https://goo.gl/y4xhzj
A wide variety of Chromebook models is available, varying in size, local storage, processing power, and other specifications. Some models are traditional clamshell laptops with both touch and non-touch screens available. Others have rotating hinges, enabling use in tablet mode. Google works with many original equipment manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Lenovo, Samsung, Acer, and Asus to produce the Chromebook hardware. However, every device runs the same Chrome operating system, which unifies and standardizes the software experience.
The ChromeVox screen reader is built into every Chromebook. ChromeVox can be enabled at any time by pressing the key combination Ctrl + Alt + Z or by navigating to Accessibility settings and checking the appropriate checkbox. The ChromeOS Accessibility team launched the original version of the ChromeVox screen reader, now called ChromeVox Classic, back in 2011. After a few years of collecting user feedback and identifying opportunities for improvement, the team re-envisioned the experience and rebuilt the screen reader from the ground up. The newest version of ChromeVox is the default screen reader on all Chromebook devices as of Chrome version 56. It reached the ChromeOS Stable Channel at the end of January 2017. *2 The benefits and improvements provided by this new version make ChromeVox a far more powerful and intuitive tool. Among the new features are a new ChromeVox panel, new ChromeVox menus, various auditory improvements such as a new set of navigational sounds (also known as "earcons"), simplified keyboard shortcuts, and improvements to Braille access.
*2 To Learn more about ChromeOS channels and to check which channel a given device is on, visit https://goo.gl/8cz6U5 .
ChromeVox features the use of a modifier key that can be pressed in conjunction with other keys to navigate through the interface. The ChromeVox modifier key is the Search key, also referred to as the "ChromeVox" key. For reference, the Search key is unique to Chromebook keyboards and is positioned above Shift, where Caps Lock exists on other keyboards.
The Chromebook keyboard includes a few major differences from a standard Windows keyboard. The Function keys along the top generally act to change laptop settings, and usually they cannot be used as F keys. The Search Key above left Shift replaces the Caps Lock. There are only two modifiers on either side of the spacebar, Control and Alt.
When ChromeVox is enabled for the first time, it usually triggers a tutorial on the most basic features of the screen reader. This tutorial is quite short, but it gives the user a nice overview of the basic commands for getting started. If the tutorial does not load or if the user wishes to return to it at another time, it can be activated with Search + O, T. The tutorial won't teach the user everything, but it gives a good grounding in how ChromeVox works overall.
In an effort to help students learn the Chromebook keyboard layout more quickly, the ChromeOS Accessibility Team added the ChromeVox Learn Mode. It can be opened at any time by pressing Search + O then K, as in "open keyboard." In this mode, the user can type keys to hear what they are. The user also can type various key combinations to hear the corresponding keyboard shortcut. This mode also works when the user is typing on a refreshable Braille display connected to the Chromebook, providing a helpful learning tool for practice in Braille typing. To exit this mode, press Ctrl + W, which is simply the keyboard shortcut to close the current Chrome tab.
The most basic form of navigation is to move in a linear fashion through the page or app, jumping from object to object. To do this, press Search + Right Arrow. Similarly, press Search + Left Arrow to navigate backward by object. There is also a set of keyboard shortcuts for navigating by different levels, such as by group, line, word, and character.
In addition, ChromeVox includes a rich set of jump commands that enable more efficient navigation. To navigate by heading, for example, simply press Search + H, as in "heading." To navigate backward by heading, press Search + Shift + H. The same methodology can be applied for navigating many other types of content, such as buttons (Search + B), links (Search + L), and tables (Search + T).
To see a comprehensive list of available navigational and jump commands, open up the ChromeVox Menus by pressing Search + Period. These menus are among the most useful learning tools available in the screen reader. In this panel, you can access a list of all jump commands as well as ChromeVox speech options, a list of open tabs, a links list, forms list, headings list, ARIA landmarks list, and more. When students are first learning to use a screen reader, it can certainly be overwhelming to memorize the many shortcuts needed to navigate a computer. By teaching students the fundamentals and directing them to reference the ChromeVox Menus frequently, teachers can reduce their cognitive load and make the ramp-up period shorter. Students can also learn which shortcuts are most useful for their specific needs.
Braille access on the Chromebook is a work in progress. It is not yet possible to use the Chromebook entirely from the Braille display. However, with the transition to the new version of ChromeVox, ChromeOS Braille support has undergone recent and rapid improvements. It is now possible to use the Braille display's keyboard to execute jump commands for faster navigation. For the first time Braille users can use Braille as their primary tool for web browsing on this platform.
Chromebooks are compatible with most USB Braille displays. To start using a Braille display, simply plug the display into the Chromebook's USB port. If it wasn't on already, the Braille display will turn on ChromeVox, and within a few seconds the Braille display will show what ChromeVox is speaking. The student can use the navigation keys on the display to move the focus on the Chromebook.
The Chromebook offers support for contracted and uncontracted literary Braille in both American and Unified English Braille formats. It also offers support for 8-dot computer Braille and provides Braille support for several other languages, including Spanish, French, and German. To adjust Braille settings, visit the ChromeVox Options page by pressing Search + O then O, as in "open options."
Braille captions, which provide an on-screen visual representation of text shown on the Braille display, can be especially helpful to sighted parents or teachers of the visually impaired who want to see the written text that corresponds to what ChromeVox is speaking as well as the corresponding Braille on the screen. By viewing the Braille dots in the ChromeVox panel, the teacher can even follow along with everything the student is reading on a connected USB Braille display. This makes for a helpful teaching aid and troubleshooting tool. To enable Braille captions press Search + A then B, as in "access Braille."
There is far more to learn about the ChromeVox screen reader than we can cover here, so we have listed relevant resources toward the end of this article. The ChromeOS Accessibility Team has put a lot of great features and improvements into the ChromeVox redesign, and the NFB Access Technology Team is truly excited about the greater level of access it makes possible. Both teams are eager to hear feedback and questions from users, teachers, parents, and guardians. User feedback will propel the growth of ChromeVox and its Braille support in the future.
There are several ways to zoom and magnify content on a Chromebook. First, the user can increase the size of the browser content by pressing Ctrl + Plus. To decrease the size of browser content, simply press Ctrl + Minus. To reset at any time, press Ctrl + 0. The user also can adjust the screen resolution to enlarge every item on the screen, including the app icons on the shelf, status tray items, and tabs. To do this, press Ctrl + Shift + Plus. To decrease, press Ctrl + Shift + Minus, and to reset, press Ctrl + Shift + 0.
Another option is the built-in screen magnifier, which is available in the Chromebook's accessibility settings. To access this feature, navigate to the status tray menu by clicking on the lower right corner of the screen or by pressing Alt + Shift + S on the keyboard. From here, choose the Settings option, and ChromeOS settings will open in a new tab. The cursor should automatically be placed in the search field, and you can type "accessibility" to access the various options. Yet another option is to navigate to the bottom of the settings page, click on Advanced Settings, and then navigate to Accessibility.
Once you reach the accessibility settings, check the box to enable the screen magnifier. At this point the entire screen will zoom in, and you can use the mouse cursor to pan around the screen. You can press the tab key to jump around clickable items, such as buttons and links, and the visual focus will follow to make for a more efficient experience. With this magnifier enabled, you can hold down Ctrl + Alt and scroll two fingers up and down on the touchpad to adjust the zoom level. Note that you can also use browser zoom or adjust screen resolution in conjunction with using the full screen magnifier to find the zoom level that works best for you.
In accessibility settings there is an option to increase the size of the mouse cursor for better visibility. In addition, Chromebooks have settings to highlight important items on the screen with a colored focus ring. You will find options to highlight the mouse cursor, the text caret, and/or the keyboard focused item. These focus rings appear when the given item is in motion or in use, for example, as you move the mouse cursor on the screen. Once the motion or action stops, the focus ring fades away to reduce distraction. In addition, it has the option to invert the colors of all items on the screen. This option can be helpful for users with light sensitivity. This feature is called "High Contrast." The term is not strictly accurate, as inversion will not actually change the level of contrast available, but instead trade each color with its opposite.
The Chrome and ChromeOS Accessibility Team is working on additional features and functionality for low-vision users. Explore the current feature set to determine how well it will work for your students. Some students may need more specific or different visual supports that are more readily available with a third-party screen magnification program available on other computing platforms. It can be worthwhile to spend some time to determine whether a particular student's needs are fully met by the computing platform he is using. Keep in mind that the G Suite can be reached across computing platforms as long as the student has access to the internet. In addition, as the Chromebook includes both low-vision tools and the built-in screen reader, it is a great device for teaching students to use the two modes in tandem for high efficiency and comfort.
The G Suite is a collection of cloud-based applications created by Google to enable users to work and collaborate while enjoying the benefits of a fully connected environment. The G suite includes Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Sheets, Google Slides, Google Forms, and Google Classroom. These apps make it possible for users to work from almost anywhere they desire, simply by logging into their G Suite-enabled account. Every Gmail user already has an account with access to all of the applications discussed in this article with the exception of Google Classroom, which requires an Edu account. Parents, teachers, and students can try out the features within these applications, whether or not their school has chosen to use them. For example, accessing Google Drive is as simple as visiting drive.google.com and signing in to the relevant account.
Students using the G Suite can access their documents from almost anywhere with an internet connection. In addition, the G Suite has been built with collaboration in mind, so that more than one person can review and even actively edit a document concurrently. These features make the G Suite a useful option for the classroom environment, where students may share devices, work on group projects, and access their work from systems other than their own. Even schools that have not begun to use Chromebooks may be using the G Suite with their students on other platforms.
For a blind user to get started with the G Suite, some things should be understood. Traditionally, blind users employ a set of commands in their screen readers to interact with desktop applications. Screen reader users have a second set of commands for interacting with websites, which, for all intents and purposes, are read the way a user would read a static document.
The G Suite applications, however, operate somewhat differently. They are applications, but they run inside the browser. Therefore, users may have to learn some new ways to navigate and interact, and may have to make a few changes in order to interact with the G Suite successfully. First, it is important to note that certain combinations of browser and screen access software will work better than others. At the time of this writing, the recommended experience on desktop platforms can be found using the NVDA screen reader with the Firefox browser on Windows, VoiceOver and Chrome on Mac, or ChromeVox and Chrome on ChromeOS. As mentioned earlier, Braille is not fully implemented across all G Suite applications. Students will need to use speech more heavily than they do in other applications. Until Braille access is farther along, students who rely on Braille as their primary method for interacting with a computer will not be able to use the G Suite for many tasks. A better Braille experience may be had with the iOS app versions of many of these packages, but features and support can vary. Braille users will likely require access to other tools, at least for the near term.
As discussed, G Suite applications are web apps that feature a large number of keyboard shortcuts for efficient navigation. For different screen access solutions, the student will need to use the pass through keys, Focus, or Forms mode to have these keystrokes reach the G Suite app instead of being caught by the screen reader and browser as they usually are on websites. Each screen reader has a different method for doing this:
The first time you use Docs, Sheets, or Slides on Mac or PC, make sure to enable accessibility. To do this on PC, press Ctrl + Alt + Z, and on Mac, Command + Option + Z. Note that this is done automatically in ChromeOS.
Here is one final setup tip, specifically for NVDA users. Many of the commands in the G Suite use Alt + Ctrl + N to move to the "next" element. This command conflicts with the NVDA startup shortcut when it is first installed. In order to use this command, it is necessary to disable or change the NVDA startup shortcuts. We have found that Alt + Ctrl + Backtick, which is located to the left of "1" on the number row, is a good choice. It is not bound to any other programs.
As a blind student is learning the entire G Suite, particularly Docs, Sheets, and Slides, she may find that a few things may work differently from the way she is used to when it comes to moving through files. The student may have to learn some new commands, but she may have access to some functionality not otherwise supported by her screen access package of choice. For instance, across all supported screen readers, by utilizing a shortcut provided by Docs itself, the student can move through documents by heading. To do this, she can hold down Alt + Ctrl and press N then H, as in "next heading" to go forward. To go backward she can hold down Alt + Ctrl and press P then H, as in "previous heading." On the Mac the student can use Command + Ctrl instead of Alt + Ctrl. At first this may seem counterintuitive, as screen readers support moving through webpages by heading already. However, it is important to remember that the Docs canvas is one large edit field. The screen reader's jump commands cannot normally be used in edit fields, because doing so would interfere with a user's ability to type. Therefore Docs has recreated this functionality. This change provides a bit of a trade-off for students. They may have to invest time in learning new commands specifically for Docs and the rest of the G Suite. Once they have learned these commands, however, they can likely walk up to many different types of computers and, with minor tweaks, use these apps, even if they are less familiar with the screen reader they are using.
In order to navigate and learn these programs, it is possible to pull up menus and keyboard shortcuts with the following commands:
Google Drive is the hub of an individual user's activity in G Suite. It's the place for users to keep all of their files together in the cloud. It allows a user to view, organize, and share all sorts of files that she has stored online from almost anywhere with internet access. This includes mobile computing devices such as phones and tablets. Even some Braille notetakers now offer support for accessing files from Google Drive.
Google Drive, like other file management tools, allows for various components of file management and organization. A user can create new files and move, copy, delete, or organize files into folders. It is also possible to review when the file was last created; upload local files to the cloud; or download files in alternative formats such as ePub, Microsoft Office formats, or, as a last resort, accessible PDF for offline consumption and publishing.
Google Drive is the heart of user collaboration and document creation within the G Suite. It has been built so that a user can share a file with others to view, to add comments, or to edit directly. It acts as the gateway to other tools in the G Suite, and it enables users to create new files or return to those they have been working on.
Google Docs is a word processor that focuses on reliability, simplicity, and collaboration. The real power of Docs is the ability for multiple participants to work on a file simultaneously. Multiple coauthors of the document can make changes to different sections of a file at the same time. Good keyboard support makes most actions accessible without the need to resort to the menus, but the menus are there as a reference for students who can't quite remember how to complete a particular task.
After enabling screen reader support for the first time, the Accessibility menu is made available. It includes access to most of the commands available for screen access users. It offers the option to enable or disable screen reader support, Braille support, and collaborator announcements. Toggling screen reader support will sometimes fix focus errors if they occur. So does enabling or disabling Braille support, even if a user is not using a Braille display to read or edit documents. Collaborator announcements can be a great benefit. This mode notifies the student when she is trying to work in the same paragraph as another user, thus helping them avoid working on top of one another. However, when the student is trying to read the document and collaborators are frequently entering and exiting, screen reader announcements may become disruptive. For this reason, judicious use of this option is advised. The student can disable these announcements by navigating to the Accessibility menu, selecting Settings, and choosing to turn off collaborator announcements.
Google Docs also supports speech-to-text input, called Voice Typing. This feature goes beyond basic dictation. It includes a wide variety of voice commands, enabling document editing through voice. To access this functionality, the student can navigate to Tools and choose Voice Typing. Note that this option is only available in the Chrome browser.
Braille support in Docs is presently limited to reading existing text. In some combinations of screen reader and browser, it is possible to input new text from the Braille keyboard. Unfortunately, it is not possible to move or otherwise manipulate the editing cursor from the Braille display, and attempts to do so will often result in confusing and contradictory behavior.
Google Sheets is the G Suite spreadsheet application. It can be used to create and interact with tables of information. Once again, it offers the ability for multiple collaborators to work in a file simultaneously. The traditional functions of calculating data using formulas, sorting and filtering information, and creating graphs and charts are all supported.
At this time, Braille cannot be used for reading or editing content in Google Sheets. That said, Google Sheets enables screen reader users to hear a particular row and column along with the current cell's data. As the student moves through a table of information, he will hear the context. This is the screen reader user's equivalent of locking a particular row or column into view while reviewing a table so he can review the heading under which the information is located. Likewise, he can begin to monitor any cell he expects to change as he makes calculations, so he always knows when that cell changes. Keep in mind that most functionality around screen reader interactions can happen via keyboard shortcuts and through the Accessibility menu.
Another accessibility feature is especially worth noting, as it is currently quite unique. When a graph or chart is created, the software in Sheets attempts, usually with a high level of accuracy, to create an automatic alt tag of that graph. The alt tag showcases the main trends that the graph or chart is attempting to portray. This feature is expected to get better with user feedback.
Google Slides is a presentation application. Like other apps in the G Suite, it has been created to make it possible for students to work on projects alone or collaboratively.
As is true with other presentation software, a blind student may need a little extra time and training to understand how various templates present information to visual users. Students may still benefit from working with a human reader near the completion of their presentations in order to ensure that they look the way the student expects them to appear.
Several commands are available from the Accessibility menu to assist the student in moving focus into and out of the film strip, notes, and other pertinent panels. Google Slides also includes layout descriptions for the suggested layouts. The student can choose the one she wants nonvisually. To access these descriptions, she can navigate to Tools and then choose Explore. Additional information about this functionality can be found at https://goo.gl/LvYZnq.
Note that the student currently can read and enter new text content using a refreshable Braille display, similar to the way it works in Docs. However, it is not possible to use a Braille display to access shapes at the individual slide level.
With Google Forms, it is possible for users—particularly teachers—to create online forms, surveys, and even quizzes, and distribute them to a group of people. When creating a form, the teacher adds a title, then adds however many questions or sections make sense for what he is trying to accomplish. The teacher can choose from a wide variety of question types such as short answer, paragraph, multiple choice, checkboxes, and a linear scale. It is also possible to add relevant images or videos to the form in order to provide further contextual information.
The teacher can also add collaborators who can edit the form questions through the Share options. Once the teacher is ready to distribute the form and collect responses, he can share it with as many people as he wishes via email or a direct link. Once the form is sent via email, recipients are notified and can access it and fill it out through the email message body or by opening the link and accessing it in Google Forms itself.
Form owners and collaborators can view individual responses, either through the Responses section of the Forms interface (which features individual responses as well as a summary view), or by creating a corresponding Google Sheet that automatically imports the responses. This integration with Sheets makes it possible to aggregate, organize, and analyze submissions.
Google Forms has been built with an eye to accessibility. The questions have been created to work well with screen readers and other assistive technology. A wide variety of keyboard shortcuts is available to navigate Google Forms more efficiently. You can pull up the full list by pressing Ctrl + / (Forward Slash).
Just as Google Drive is the center of all of a user's activity in the G Suite, Google Classroom acts as the hub of activity for a class or school. In Google Classroom, teachers have the ability to create virtual "classes" of students, and they can distribute assignments and key materials to all students in a particular class. Students can submit their work through the Google Classroom portal, and teachers can access, grade, make comments in real time, and even add annotations using the mobile app.
Using the Share to Classroom Chrome extension, teachers also can push specific web pages to all computers in the given Google Classroom. This is a great step forward from teachers having to write a web address on the board and rely on a student's ability to see the board and type the web address accurately. Similarly, each student has the ability to share her screen with a teacher, which can be a big help when troubleshooting an issue or collaborating on an assignment.
Google Classroom also includes useful features for parents and guardians, such as the ability to sign up for email summaries of the student's upcoming or missing work. It is important for parents to advocate for teachers to create and distribute accessible content—content that can be accessed via a screen reader and isn't simply a graphic containing pictures of text. If the teacher's content is in an accessible format, Google Classroom provides a seamless way for blind students to access their materials and assignments electronically, using their assistive technology of choice.
The importance of creating accessible student materials cannot be overstated, regardless of the platform the student uses to access those materials. The NFB Access Technology Team has created a guide that can be used by faculty and other school personnel to help explain the major concepts involved in creating accessible materials. The guide is not specific to G Suite applications. The information is highly transferable and can help make materials more accessible for all students in the classroom. The guide can be downloaded from https://nfb.org/blog/atblog/creating-nonvisually-accessible-documents.
Google also published an article about making documents more accessible. This article includes ways to make Google Docs and Google Slides content more accessible for screen reader users and tips for making documents easier to read. It is available at https://goo.gl/ac0NwK.
Here is a handful of resources to help you get started on Chromebooks and G Suite apps. On the Chromebook side, take a look at the Accessibility section of the Chromebook Help Center at https://goo.gl/1lCIiD as well as chromevox.com.
The Chrome and ChromeOS Accessibility Team has launched a Chrome and ChromeOS Accessibility YouTube series at https://goo.gl/Dkomk8, featuring videos about Chromebook low-vision features, ChromeVox, and more.
The Chrome and ChromeOS Accessibility Team is eager to receive feedback about how these features are working for you, your child, or your student. Please consider joining one or both of these Google Groups—Chromebook Accessibility (https://goo.gl/VlCpcB) and ChromeVox Discuss (https://goo.gl/961vCq). Send questions or feedback to [email protected] or chromevox-discuss
To learn more about G Suite accessibility, visit the G Suite Help Center, and more specifically, the G Suite User Guide to Accessibility at https://goo.gl/hVa6CM. The G Suite Accessibility Team has also released a few videos about getting started with various G Suite apps using a Windows screen reader (https://goo.gl/h8gw0v), and hopes to release more in the future.
To learn more about Google accessibility as a whole, visit google.com/accessibility.
Google is very enthusiastic about its work to ensure access for blind users. "NFB is an incredibly important partner to Google, and we're grateful for our productive and frequent collaboration," says Eve Anderson, senior manager of Accessibility Engineering. "We are appreciative of the NFB's feedback which has helped improve the accessibility of our products. We're excited to continue our work together in the years to come."
After reading this article, we hope that you and your students are able to give some of these products a try. Whether or not you are currently using these Google products with your students, we hope that you will share your experiences with both Google and the National Federation of the Blind's Access Technology Team. The NFB knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines a blind child's future, and with your help and the help of partners such as Google, we will continue to improve their education so that they can live the lives they want!