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Thread: Google Accessibility Search

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From: Jared Smith
Date: Thu, Jul 20 2006 8:20PM
Subject: Google Accessibility Search
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Google has released a search tool that is "designed to identify and
prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and
visually impaired users."

http://labs.google.com/accessible/

We've posted our thoughts and review of the new tool on our blog at
http://webaim.org/blog/2006/07/20/google-steps-forward/

Jared Smith
WebAIM.org





From: Christian Heilmann
Date: Fri, Jul 21 2006 1:50AM
Subject: Re: Google Accessibility Search
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> Google has released a search tool that is "designed to identify and
> prioritize search results that are more easily usable by blind and
> visually impaired users."
>
> http://labs.google.com/accessible/
>
> We've posted our thoughts and review of the new tool on our blog at
> http://webaim.org/blog/2006/07/20/google-steps-forward/

I like the idea, but it is - possibly involuntarily - advertising the
idea that there needs to be a "special" version of any web app for
blind people, which is a myth we tried to get rid of for years now.

--
Chris Heilmann
Book: http://www.beginningjavascript.com
Blog: http://www.wait-till-i.com
Writing: http://icant.co.uk/




From: Mark Magennis
Date: Fri, Jul 21 2006 2:50AM
Subject: Re: Google Accessibility Search
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Christian Heilmann wrote:
>
> I like the idea, but it is - possibly involuntarily - advertising the
> idea that there needs to be a "special" version of any web app for
> blind people, which is a myth we tried to get rid of for years now.

I fully agree. It undermines one of the most important arguments in
favour of universally accessible websites - that you do not have to
compromise the functionality and aesthetics in order to improve
access. This is mostly true most of the time in today's Web.

I am also concerned that it reinforces the erroneous belief that
accessibility is about special adaptations for people with vision
impairment. It is not. It is about catering for the normal diversity
of sensory, cognitive and physical abilities that exists in almost
any user population.

Maybe this is a bit like "Bobby Approved". It may help raise
awareness, but may reinforce some incorrect and damaging messages
along the way.

Mark


Dr. Mark Magennis
Director of the Centre for Inclusive Technology (CFIT)
National Council for the Blind of Ireland
Whitworth Road, Dublin 9, Republic of Ireland
www.cfit.ie

= EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = tel: +353 (0)71 914 7464


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From: Emma Duke-Williams
Date: Fri, Jul 21 2006 3:30AM
Subject: Re: Google Accessibility Search
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On 7/21/06, Mark Magennis < = EMAIL ADDRESS REMOVED = > wrote:
>
> Christian Heilmann wrote:
> >
> > I like the idea, but it is - possibly involuntarily - advertising the
> > idea that there needs to be a "special" version of any web app for
> > blind people, which is a myth we tried to get rid of for years now.
>
> I fully agree. It undermines one of the most important arguments in
> favour of universally accessible websites - that you do not have to
> compromise the functionality and aesthetics in order to improve
> access. This is mostly true most of the time in today's Web.
>
> I am also concerned that it reinforces the erroneous belief that
> accessibility is about special adaptations for people with vision
> impairment. It is not. It is about catering for the normal diversity
> of sensory, cognitive and physical abilities that exists in almost
> any user population.
>

One solution that I could see would be for Google to add the
"accessibility" option to the options that you get under advanced, so,
as well as being able say you want it in French, you could also say
that you want it to be suited to screen readers.
That then wouldn't be having a separate site for the screen-reader
friendly results, but it would be allowing people to prioritise.

Has any one tested it to see how well it ranks sites that do easily
allow you to enlarge the text size in IE, (e.g. BBC), and those that
don't (CNN)? Do they distinguish between sites that provide
transcripts/ subtitled audio/video & those that don't. What about
sites that make good use of clear English?

However, this is a start!

Emma




From: Christian Heilmann
Date: Fri, Jul 21 2006 4:00AM
Subject: Re: Google Accessibility Search
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> One solution that I could see would be for Google to add the
> "accessibility" option to the options that you get under advanced, so,
> as well as being able say you want it in French, you could also say
> that you want it to be suited to screen readers.
> That then wouldn't be having a separate site for the screen-reader
> friendly results, but it would be allowing people to prioritise.

That would be the most appropriate action - offering as a filter
rather than an own version of search. However, that would call all the
hard-core accessibility techies on the plan to complain about Google
not validating and using JavaScript on an accessible search page.
It is the Catch 22 that stops a lot of large corporations to do
anything extra or advertising their accessibility enhancements - there
are just too many people out there whose sole test for accessibility
is "does it validate" and "does it use javascript".

> Has any one tested it to see how well it ranks sites that do easily
> allow you to enlarge the text size in IE, (e.g. BBC), and those that
> don't (CNN)? Do they distinguish between sites that provide
> transcripts/ subtitled audio/video & those that don't. What about
> sites that make good use of clear English?

I'd be very interested in seeing the filtering algo, too :-)

--
Chris Heilmann
Book: http://www.beginningjavascript.com
Blog: http://www.wait-till-i.com
Writing: http://icant.co.uk/




From: Austin, Darrel
Date: Fri, Jul 21 2006 9:20AM
Subject: RE: Google Accessibility Search
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> I like the idea, but it is - possibly involuntarily -
> advertising the idea that there needs to be a "special"
> version of any web app for blind people, which is a myth we
> tried to get rid of for years now.

I shared this gripe as well as Web-Aim's of it not really being an
'accessible search' but rather just for blind people.

Good intentions, it seems, but slightly missing the mark.

IMHO:
http://mnteractive.com/archive/google-launches-accessibility-search/

-Darrel