Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 3 – ChromeOS and Chromebooks

Min and Kenji of Chrome OS team:  Chrome OS and Chromebooks

Leans on speed, simplicity and security of ChromeOS

They’re cheap.

Boot in under 8 seconds, hassle-free, maintenance-free. Just sign in with Google account…all your stuff is “in the cloud.” Idea here is that your stuff is not tied to a specific machine, which is particularly important for people with disabilities who have settings “just so.”

Reviewing features of Chromebook, walked through setup:

  1. Accessibility is built-into OS at setup; spoken feedback provided via ChromeVox.
  2. Select language, keyboard, network.
  3. Email
  4. Select a picture ID
  5. Tutorial

SHARABILITY:  Kenji then walked through how different people can use a Chromebook by logging on with his account in “guest mode,” enabling accessibility features.

Min then asked for detailed feedback via the “Chromebook accessibility trusted test program.”  This is a program where Google will provide a Chromebook to qualified “trusted testers” on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Each participant will be provided with a Chromebook, with the expectation that users will be active testers.

Apply for Chromebook Accessibility Trusted Tester Program:

Program application is open until March 15

This program is available for individuals, not large organizations or federal, state, or local government organizations.

Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 2 – Introductions and Scope

Getting started now. TV Raman introduced himself and is giving a brief overview of the session today. Who’s here?

Alan Warren: VP, engineering
TV Raman, Lead, Google Accessibility

Some of the things that’ll be talked about today:

  • ChromeOS
  • Drive
  • Docs Suite
  • Gmail
  • What Google is doing in the field of accessibility, including all aspects of the Google platform including Chrome and Android.

Head of docs division is here, will discuss where accessibility fits in

AM: Chrome OS, Apps
Afternoon: Android platform will be discussed after lunch.

Alan touched on how Google Apps were developed as very simple tools to begin with, and how accessibility support was a bit spotty to begin with. However, it’s now a key focus. He mentioned how this is built into their testing coverage now.

TV Raman talked a bit about the “broad scope” of things – how Google’s apps are a platform accessed via a web browser. As such, mobile is important part of their strategy (Android). Google is know for innovating in the web space, but the key question is: who does innovation for blind users? As we innovate for sighted users, we will innovate for blind users as well.

A lot of work is being put into the Chrome OS (because it’s viewed as a platform) to provide additional support for blind users. The only way to make accessibility better is to make it simplify it at every level. Raman believes that we can reach accessibility with THIS generation of web technology.

“Every user is different, and we need to build a customizable interface that works for everyone.”

Getting a lot of high-level discussion right now to orient for the day. There seems to be a lot of focus on blind users here.

Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 1 – Getting Started

It’s my first dat at #CSUN13, and I’m glad that I arrived early. I’m sitting in the back of the “FORD A” room, because that’s the only place I can find an open power outlet. My 17-inch MacBook Pro chews through the battery if I keep the screen too bright. I must remember to bring a power strip next time to make more friends 🙂 The presentation room Google is in is a bit smaller than I expected, and I’ve been told that it’ll be standing room only. Seeing as Google has at least 10 people in the room right now, I think that’s an accurate statement.

It’s an all-day session, so I expect to post a lot of (hopefully useful) tidbits here. Did I mention this is my first attempt at a live blog? You’ll have to excuse any typos, poor grammar, or bad language. I tend to write what I’m thinking at the time.

Please leave comments and follow me: @paulschantz

#SATechCali2013 – or “How to Set Up an Unconference” – Part 1

I love keeping up with the latest trends in Internet technology.

One event I used to attend was the O’Reilly Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco. The breadth of this now “on hiatus” conference was huge and unmatched by any higher ed conference I’ve seen thus far. Where else could you see the biggest names in Internet technology lay out some of the coolest ideas and world-changing work they do? The scrappy startups – some of which made their homes just blocks from Moscone Center – were always there too. Whether it was Werner Vogels from Amazon talking about what it really means to make a data center have “six nines uptime,” or Amy Jo Kim and Buster Benson talking about creating better user experiences through the ethical use of gamification techniques, or talks about “big data” and data visualization, it was a fantastically valuable experience. It gave me all kinds of ideas about things I could do “back home.” What I actually brought back from those conferences and implemented is a topic for another post 😉

The excitement of conference ideas was difficult to convey to my colleagues, much less implement…many ideas were simply years ahead of what most folks were ready to think about. To be fair, some people in higher ed actually do think and write about some of these ideas. The difference is that the people at Web 2.0 were actually DOING them at “web scale.” I began thinking about how I could convert some of these big ideas into something practical and useful for my colleagues who are lifelong Student Affairs professionals.

That’s when I hooked up with Ed Cabellon from Bridgewater State University in Massachusetts ( and Joe Sabado from UC Santa Barbara ( Ed successfully put on a couple of “unconferences” (see and for more info), and Joe was interested in setting up such an event on the West Coast. An unconference is in many ways like a meetup; I’d been to a few of those before, and they were all great. After a few emails back and forth about the kinds of things Joe and I would need to do to put on a successful unconference, I did a Google+ Hangout “call” with Ed. It was immediately obvious that this was exactly the kind of thing I needed to do.

As you can imagine, there are a ton of details to attend to, but I think Joe and I are up for it! What I can say for certain is that it will be held at CSUN in early June 2013, and it will have a lot of great, practical ideas about technology that you can take back to your campus and use right away. More to come!

…and now, for a little security

I resisted getting a password manager for the longest time. The promise of easily creating and actually using strong passwords for all the online services I use sounded great. It also sounded like a lot of work, because like many people, I have a ton of accounts scattered to the four winds of the Internets. Even though I knew the actual time invested in doing this is minimal and nearly all “up front,” I used that as a lame excuse to not do it. After reading Mat Honan’s “epic hacking” horror story and other security articles, I decided it was finally time to buckle down and get a handle on securing my digital world. After reading a number of reviews and talking to a few friends who use it, I purchased a copy of 1Password. The feedback for this product is overwhelmingly positive, and after using it for a few hours, I have to agree.

Purchase, initial setup of the application, the three supported browser extensions, and iOS installation to my iPhone and iPad took me close to an hour. Why so long? I take the time to thoroughly read documentation before diving into anything new. I don’t want to miss any steps on a tool that changes something I do repeatedly throughout the day, every day. I don’t mind learning something new if it’ll save time and make me more secure over the long run.

My main concern was securing the big stuff called out in Mat’s article, i.e. Facebook and Twitter. Setting up my first account (Facebook) took about 5 minutes, because I wanted to make darn sure I wasn’t missing any steps. After some careful copying and pasting (I chose “very secure” passwords of ridiculous lengths), I logged out. I held my breath slightly as I attempted to log back into my Facebook account by simply clicking the browser extension button and…it just worked. Frankly, it was a little anticlimactic. However, after setting up a few other accounts, this whole process started to feel a lot sweeter, especially with services where I have more than one account. Definitely easier than letting the browser manage them for you. You know that service you use every day that has that login form that’s pre-populated with one of several often-used usernames? The one where you only have to click the “submit” button to log into one of three possible accounts? Yeah, that random process is now replaced with a far more reliable and secure login.

Another cool feature 1password has is synchronization via dropbox. Since I already have a dropbox account, this only took about ten minutes to set up on my iPhone and iPad. Adding a password in one place made it available to all my devices. Very slick.

So far, I’m very pleased with 1password. Was it cheap? No. At $49.99 in the Mac app store, plus $14.99 for the universal iOS app (iPhone / iPod / iPad), it’s probably the most expensive solution of its type. However, it IS very easy to use and encourages creation of very strong passwords. In my opinion, $65 is super-cheap insurance, especially compared with having your entire digital life erased or stolen. If someone were to demand my Facebook or Twitter password at gunpoint (a ridiculously extreme example to be sure), I honestly couldn’t them what they are.

My biggest question now is “why on earth did I wait so long to do this?” I’ll update this post after I’ve spent a little more time with the product.

UPDATE 8/20/2012: One downside discovered today is that my wife could not purchase schoolbooks for one of her Masters classes using my Amazon account (the family shares my account). The phone call was a little funny: “why can’t you tell me the new password?” Me: “Because it’s a ridiculously long random string I can’t even remember!” Not really a downside, but an inconvenience. It’ll also be a pain in the butt to enter this new password on my TV for Amazon Video…

Continuing Adventures in Higher Ed & Technology