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ATHEN Report on the Accessibility of GMail and Google Calendar

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Abstract

The Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) is continuing its functional evaluation of the components of the Google Application Suite to determine the accessibility of each component for users with various types of disabilities and assistive technology. This evaluation covers GMail and Google Calendar (Calendar). There are several positive findings for users with certain types of disabilities, including users of:

  • screen magnification software
  • keyboard-only interactions
  • some high-contrast visual layouts

 

However, there were still significant shortcomings especially for screen reader users. Some of the major problems include:

  • the inability to easily navigate messages in a conversation
  • the inability to attach files to an email message
  • the inability to schedule meeting times between multiple participants
  • excessive tabbing or illogical page layouts resulting in significant user inefficiencies

Both GMail and Calendar offer “more accessible” interface options for screen reader users, but even those prove lacking in some fundamental areas. Other than performing some base level operations in each application, neither GMail nor Calendar can be considered equitably accessible to all user groups, especially for the visually impaired.

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