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Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 6 – A Couple Questions

TV Raman continues…

Quotes:  “Building accessibility for the web platform” and “we’re getting close to an inflection point” where things will get much easier to use.

A couple of my questions for the planned “fireside chat” with the Google crew later:

  1. Do all the features described today require use of Chromebook hardware, ChromeOS, and ChromeVox?
  2. Are keyboard shortcuts consistent across OS and browser platforms?

Google Accessibility Update – Live Blog Post 5 – Drive and Docs Suite

Drive and Docs Suite

Ajay Surie and team (slide went by too quickly)

“These are rich web applications that allow creation of rich content within a web browser”

TEXT FROM SLIDE:  “Building accessibility for complex web applications is still hard.  Docs is built on JavaScript; working with ChromeVox has allowed us to iterate rapidly and identify challenges with today’s accessibility toolset.  Goal is to learn from our implementation and evolve current web accessibility standards where necessary.”  Also want to make apps work with NON-CHROMEVOX screen readers.  Building in dictation features.

Document editor cursor is drawn and positioned dynamically.  Traditional screen readers don’t really work with these kinds of web apps.  We have a way to have the app talk to the screen reader (this was not specifically described).

Dev team put out another call for feedback on Docs.  Docs team has Incorporated a process during development where accessibility is built-in from the start.

Some Drive changes highlighted:

  • Completely redesigned keyboard interaction model in Drive
  • Keyboard navigation across the list easier and more consistent
  • Document list is a single focusable elements:  shortcuts to navigate document list
  • Improved focus management
  • Better verbalization of instructions and application state

Like Alex with Gmail (see post 4), they’re looking at making navigation more consistent.

  1. Search area at top
  2. Folder list area on left
  3. Document list in the middle
  4. Details pane (right side of the page for sighted users, basically a preview area with editable settings such as sharing)

Demonstrated “starring” a doc using ARIA within the Document list, then listing all starred items.  A lot of the keyboard accessibility features and new keyboard model is useful for people without disabilities as well.

Google Slides

Made slide editor “completely accessible.”  This demonstration should be interesting…

Opened presentation inside a new tab; on open, it reads # of slides, title, text, and a lot of other details.

  1. Canvas view is where slide content is created.  Items on slide are tab-navigable.  Opening a slide makes ChromeVox verbalize what’s on the canvas.
  2. Filmstrip is where organization of slides happens.
  3. Notes panel

Slides Demo

  • Demo’ed selection of text on a slide and bolding
  • Added a slide in filmstrip by control-n
  • Control-shift-backspace to activate context menu (equivalent of right-click), selected a slide layout

Docs Editor

  • Showed a ton of keyboard shortcuts (I didn’t catch all of them, unfortunately)
  • Comments feature
  • “Alt-forward slash” key combo brings up search features within the documents editor, i.e. any feature in the visible menus
  • Move between headings: “Control-Alt-P” and “Control-Alt-H”
  • Demonstrated moving back and forth between footnotes

Google Sheets (Excel-alike product)

Focus has been on giving user more contextual information about what they’re working on.  Moving around a sheet’s rows and columns provides a verbalized summary of what’s on the sheet (this demo had a minor glitch with verbalization).

Selecting range of cells provides details on cell content as well (this could get interesting if selecting a large number of cells…this was not demonstrated).

PAUL’S QUESTION:  are keyboard shortcuts consistent across OS and browser platforms?

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?

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:  www.chromebook.com/accessibility

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.