Accessibility Technology

Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 4 – Gmail

Next up:  Gmail

Alex Gawley, Director, Product Management

Original product was loaded with JavaScript and designed for sighted users.  Last couple years, we’ve been focused on adding much better support for blind users.

  • We now have extensive support for ARIA labelling
  • Manual testing for new features
  • Automated tests for regressions (tests addition of new features to make sure it doesn’t break old features)

Many users still use HTML UI, so still al ong way to go.  Reconciling JavaScript UI model versus browser UI model.

We didn’t spend a lot of time on the navigation model until recently.

  • Complete redesign to inbox and conversation view navigation
  • Clearer model for regions of the UI
  • Navigation labels
  • Main – inbox and conversations
  • Use of arrow keys, N/P and Enter to navigate between and within regions
  • Rational model for managing focus

Alex gave a short demo of how this works now.

  • Focus is given to 1st message in the inbox
  • Jumped into navigation section (inbox, sent, trash, etc.)
  • Jumped back to “thread list” (using the 1st message list in the inbox)
  • Used “N” and “P” keys to jump to messages within a thread
  • Anytime in the main view, you can jump into navigation area by pressing the left arrow
Near term plans
  • Incorporating accessibility design and testing earlier in the development process (ie new compose).
  • Integration testing to prevent regressions

Long term plans:

  • Building in accessibility for all next-generation Gmail interfaces from the outset.

BIG QUESTION:  does this require use of Chromebook hardware?

By Paul Schantz

CSUN Director of Web & Technology Services, Student Affairs. husband, father, gamer, part time aviator, fitness enthusiast, Apple fan, and iguana wrangler.

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