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Google Response on NFB Google Apps Concerns

Earlier in the week, I posted a review of the most recent concerns about the accessibility of Google Apps for Education expressed by the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). In that piece, I noted the NFB view that "there is no indication yet that Google intends to address accessibility problems that arise from users accessing Google Apps via other market-standard browsers (e.g., Internet Explorer, Firefox) and assistive applications (e.g., the JAWS screen reader, the Dragon NaturallySpeaking speech recognition application)." Google has since provided the following clarification of its plans for Google Apps accessibility in non-Google browsers and assistive applications, which I quote in its entirety:

"Google is committed to providing an accessible experience wherever our users are. For example, this year Google Drive has added accessible support for Android, iOS, and NVDA.

On the desktop, Google uses ChromeVox to add features that make it possible for cutting edge web apps to be accessible, notably screenreader APIs that are exposed in Javascript. For that reason, our accessible experience is often the most functional on ChromeVox but we still work to deliver the best experience possible for other screenreaders given their limited support for web apps. As we move accessibility on the Web platform forward, our goal is to standardize features from ChromeVox so that the accessibility experience of Google products and web apps in general improves substantially across the various combinations of modern browsers and screenreaders."

As with my previous post, I encourage EDUCAUSE members that have adopted or are considering adopting Google Apps for Education as their institutional productivity suite, either in whole or in part, to discuss this information with their general counsel's office to assess what it means in the context of institutional policies and processes for addressing accessibility compliance.

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