Every student needs access to up-to-date technology in the classroom. That means Web tools must provide solutions for participation by students with vision impairments, those who are deaf, individuals with mobility impairments, and individuals with cognitive/learning disabilities.
Technological innovation moves quickly, and Google representatives have said it’s challenging to offer simple yet effective accessibility features for every new technology as soon as it evolves. However, google does have a team of developers working to increase accessibility of Google Apps for Education. The company describes accessibility features for blind, low-vision, deaf, and hard-of-hearing users at http://www.google.com/accessibility/products. Some of these require more labor-intensive workarounds than others.
Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN) formed the Google Apps Accessibility Interest Group to look at the accessibility features for users of all types of disabilities including visual, mobility, learning and cognitive. ATHEN acknowledges that Google is in the process of improving its Google Application Suite to make it more accessible for people with disabilities and to date many improvements have been make but the majority of recent efforts have largely been targeted to screen reader users and not necessarily addresses the needs of other disabilities. For a web based copy of the full report click here. Or download the attached copy of the PDF: ATHEN Report on the Accessibility of Google Documents below.
ChromeVox is now available on your Chrome OS Netbook. When y ou open your Chrome OS Netbook, type Control-Alt_Z to turn on accessibility. This turns your netbook into a self-voicing browser with a set of keyboard navigation options. Click here for the Getting Started with Chrome Vox on your Chrome OS Netbook. Interactive guide for How to navigate using ChromeVox. ChromeVox can be downloaded for any Chrome OS device here.
Paula Walser, Director of E- Learning, Assistive Technology Consultant, CESA 6, Oshkosh, WI firstname.lastname@example.org