As Adswervians we take pride in being an important channel partner and an advocate for Google and its products. We also take pride in our internal initiatives to further diversity, equity and inclusion in our workforce. While that can largely take place within the confines of our own immediate work-life ecosystem, one that spans a distributed workforce across multiple offices, it extends to our clients as well. We recognize that embracing DEI efforts includes accessibility for our own employees as well as making sure our clients and the customers they are serving can access the products in a way that works best for them.
In the last five years, we’ve seen an increased push for online accessibility, including new regulatory requirements. In 2019, European Union members adopted the European Accessibility Act into their laws to even the playing field for all users. As we look to the future, the digital community expects that online accessibility efforts will be required sometime around 2025 in the US as well.
Google’s suite of more than 35 different products offers features that give increased access to individuals who may need assistance based on their cognitive, auditory, mobility, speech or vision abilities. This blog will cover products and features that can help you ensure your website is accessible and point out improvement opportunities for your app or website. After reading, we hope you’ll have some new ways your organization can be a better ally to underserved users.
First, Some Things to Keep in Mind
Accessibility and inclusion are not a one-time fix and require ongoing attention and updates to ensure you are reaching users to the best of your abilities. Even a website that was updated for accessibility one to two years ago could already be out of date and missing some key features.
Another important note is to adopt the thinking of “more is more” when it comes to accessibility features on your site. Check out this link for an expanded but non-exhaustive list of dimensions to keep in mind as you build out your website. Remember that they’re all important; you’re not adding them for the majority of your users, but for your users who are often marginalized.
Finally, as you address the functions of your website, be sure to include and listen to many different voices. In conjunction with a diverse creative team, it could be helpful to utilize external partners or diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) experts to bring in new ideas. A room full of like-minded people may overlook issues and result in some blind spots.
Accessibility Features and Products to Explore
- Cognitive: 14 total features spanning eight products, including:
- Accessibility Scanner – Android developers can test the accessibility of their apps and receive suggestions to improve them
- Accessibility Tips for Docs – Create more accessible documents with these helpful tips, including alt text, high color contrast and more
- Long Descriptions – Open long descriptions for complex images, charts or graphs
- Hearing: 20 total features spanning across 12 products including:
- Live Caption – View real-time subtitles as everyone speaks
- Sound Amplifier – Boost sound, filter background noise and fine-tune the sounds around you to make it easier to hear what you care about
- Mobility: 39 features spanning 21 products, including:
- Action Blocks – Simplify and perform everyday tasks with a single tap, with customized widgets on your Android home screen.
- Keyboard Browsing – Browse web page text using your arrow keys.
- Speech: 7 features spanning six products, including:
- Live Transcribe – Get real-time speech-to-text transcriptions for over 70 languages and dialects
- Morse Code – Write in Morse code on your phone or tablet
- Vision: 61 features spanning 27 products, including:
- High Contrast Mode – Customize and invert the color scheme on web pages for easier browsing
- AI Image Descriptions – Get automatic descriptions of unlabeled images or graphics
- Screen Reader Compatibility – Chrome is compatible with many screen readers and magnifiers that offer synthesized text-to-speech or a refreshable braille display
- Text-to-Speech Settings – Customize voice, speech rate, pitch, volume and more
See all of the available features here.
Helpful Technology For Now and The Future
With these features and settings, Google aims to create “helpful technology [that] enables everyone to pursue their goals.” While these features will not make all websites 100% accessible to all or make everything as easy to use as it might be for the next person, they will get that ball rolling. As more companies understand and adopt these features, we’ll start moving toward a more accessible online ecosystem for all. Make sure to do your part as well by explaining these features to your co-workers, employees and clients because you never know who may benefit from a little extra help.
We’re very excited about all of the accessibility features that Google has in 2022 and look forward to further advancements that make accessibility more attainable and easy for everyone. Keep an eye on the Adswerve blog for more info. And if you still have questions, reach out and we’ll be happy to help.
As part of our commitment to DEI, Adswerve is completely redesigning our website (adswerve.com) with plans to launch in early 2023. Our goal is to be Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 AA standard compliant. We strive to create an accessible online experience for all who visit our website whether you’re a new or returning visitor browsing our services or blog, or are looking for career opportunities.