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NFB: Google Apps Accessibility Not There Yet

This last October, I wrote about comments made by the National Federation of the Blind’s legal counsel, Dan Goldstein, indicating that Google appeared to be on track to resolve NFB concerns about Google Apps accessibility for persons with visual disabilities by the end of 2011 or early in January 2012 ( Unfortunately, those expectations have not been realized—recent NFB testing has found that Google Apps still exhibit substantial, and in some cases new, accessibility problems.

Goldstein sent word this week that NFB testing indicates that Google Docs is still not fully accessible via either Firefox or Internet Explorer; Google Calendar has become less accessible when used with Firefox than it was last August while still not having full, accessible functionality in Internet Explorer; and the accessibility concerns of the NFB regarding Gmail when accessed via Firefox and IE remain unresolved.

Goldstein noted that Google Apps do seem to be largely accessible via Chrome OS-based computers (i.e., Chromebooks). However, he also stated that this does not resolve NFB concerns given that it would require students with visual disabilities to have a Chromebook to effectively use Google Apps while most would still need to rely on PC or Mac for other basic applications and uses.

The NFB has not released an official review of its current Google Apps findings, but EDUCAUSE Policy has asked to be notified when such a review is posted so we can highlight it for our members. Likewise, we intend to ask Google for an update on its Google Apps accessibility plans and progress in light of NFB’s renewed concerns to help EDUCAUSE members make informed judgments on if and when to adopt Google Apps for Education.