According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than a billion people worldwide have a disability. That means that one out of every seven people on the planet could be potentially impacted by design decisions that fail to take accessibility into account. With diversity and inclusivity in mind, Google is committed to making accessibility a core consideration of their product designs to enhance the user experience for people with low vision, blindness, hearing impairments, cognitive impairments, motor impairments or temporary disabilities. For example, to ensure that everyone is able to access and enjoy its productivity and collaboration tools, Google Cloud has implemented many built-in accessibility features in G Suite. Here are five of G Suite’s accessibility features that can enhance diversity and inclusion in your organization:
1. Use Live Captions in Hangouts Meet & Slides
Powered by Google’s speech recognition technology, live captioning enables people who are deaf or hard of hearing to watch videos and presentations in real time. In Hangouts Meet, Google’s online video conferencing solution, meeting participants can turn on captions during video calls to follow what’s being said in meetings. The captions are displayed in a high-contrast format (a black background with white text) so they can be read with ease. Google Slides, which allows you to create and present professional presentations, has live captioning capability as well. When presenting slides, the speaker can turn on automatic captions to display the speaker’s words in real time.
2. Type With Your Voice in Google Docs
In Chrome browsers, users have the ability to type and edit by speaking in Google Docs. Speech-to-text features are useful for people with physical disabilities or chronic conditions that interfere with their ability to use the keyboard or mouse. Dictation features are also helpful for people with cognitive and learning disabilities who need to use voice rather than type. Additionally, people with temporary limitations, such as a broken arm, will find this functionality useful. With voice typing, you can also correct mistakes and dictate formatting and punctuation with commands. To edit your document, you can use commands like “Select paragraph,” “Delete,” and “Go to the end of the line.”
3. Use Keyboard Shortcuts to Navigate Without a Mouse
Google designed G Suite’s applications so that they can be used with just a keyboard. This benefits users with mobile disabilities who are unable to use a mouse (for instance, some people have tremors which don’t allow for fine muscle control). In addition, blind users often rely on keyboards for navigation. To get around using a mouse to navigate, there are numerous keyboard shortcuts that can be used in G Suite. For example, in Gmail, after enabling keyboard shortcuts in settings, you can simply type the letter ‘c’ to compose an email. You’d type ⌘/Ctrl + Enter to send an email. There are even shortcuts for getting a list of keyboard shortcuts.
4. Use a Screen Reader to Hear the Content on a Page
Screen readers are a form of assistive technology that enables people who are blind or visually impaired to use a computer. A screen reader works by reading the content displayed on a computer screen with a speech synthesizer or braille display. It also provides methods to interact and control applications. G Suite is compatible with several screen readers, including ChromeVox, Google’s own screen reader. Google has made collaborating with others while using a screen reader easier with a feature that announces when people enter or leave a document in Docs, Sheets, Slides or Drawings. To keep track of real-time updates made by collaborators in a document, a live edits feature informs users when others are editing alongside them by providing a periodically updated summary of changes in a convenient sidebar.
5. Read and Edit With a Braille Display in Docs Editors
A refreshable braille display, also known as a braille terminal, is an electro-mechanical device used to display information on a computer screen in tactile characters for people who are blind or visually impaired. With G Suite, you can use a braille display to read and edit documents, spreadsheets, presentations and drawings. To ensure that users are able to follow along with changes made by collaborators, the live edits feature works with braille displays as well.
Google’s commitment to accessibility extends beyond its products to initiatives and research that focus on making technology and the web accessible to all. To learn more, visit the Google Accessibility Blog. And, for a deeper dive into G Suite’s accessibility features, check out the video below.