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Re: Google Trip Planner


From: Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis
Date: Jun 18, 2008 1:20PM

Tom Kort wrote:

> Is Google Transit generally know as accessible to the visually
impaired? A
> Chicago Transit Authority press release
> said it was, but I have my doubts,

I applaud your press release scepticism.

There's a more helpful discussion about what this accessibility claim
entails from T. V. Raman, who is both a screen reader developer (sort of, he
develops emacspeak) and a Google developer, at:


The accessibility claim seems to boil down to the following:

1. The main interface includes some text providing information as well as a

2. You can get just a plain-ish HTML version without the map by appending
&output=html to the URL. (Not sure how end-users are supposed to find out
about this.)

3. Third-party programmers could write specialized software to
use the raw data Google provide.

> Google Transit doesn't seem to have headers.


> It seems that the summaries are too breif and don't present useful
> information like route numbers or walking distance,

I'm not entirely sure what you're referring to as "the summaries" here. The
page you link to does include a bus number (152). Based on what Raman
says, it
would show walking distances between stops, if any applied, but not
walking as
an alternative to driving or taking public transport.

> and of course their format is not what is suggested by accessibility

Well probably, but given you're ensuing question: in which particular sense?

> Is this a problem?

Well, accessibility is not a boolean. Just because someone, somewhere judges
Google Transit accessible to the visually impaired doesn't mean it doesn't
pose any unnecessary problems to the visually impaired. It also doesn't say
/anything/ about accessibility to people with other disabilities; note that
people with visual disabilities might be in both groups.

> I tried looking at the source code and saw things like
> "x3ex3cnobrx3ex3c." What is this code?

That's a part of an arbitrary HTML string inside a JS string.

Specificially, nobr is a non-standard element:


Some of the characters in the string are presented as hexadecimal escapes:


For example x3c is an escape for <. This may be a precautionary measure
against strings being interpreted as HTML markup and ending the SCRIPT block


The string will presumably be inserted into the HTML document object
model at
some point via methods such as:



Benjamin Hawkes-Lewis