Saturday, March 2, 2013

Google Chrome, Apps, Android: Making life easier for blinds low-vision user


So what if you a blind or have a poor vision, the world around you is not lost completely and you can still compete with most of the Tec savvy people.
Chrome OS now supports a high-quality text-to-speech voice (starting with U.S. English). We’ve also made spoken feedback, along with screen magnification and high-contrast mode available out-of-the-box to make Chromebook and Chromebox setup easier for users with accessibility needs.
Not only this, these people can access their mails with Gmail now having a consistent navigation interface, backed by HTML5 ARIA, which enables blind and low-vision users to effectively navigate using a set of keyboard commands.
“It’s now much easier to access content in your Google Drive using a keyboard—for example, you can navigate a list of files with just the arrow keys. In Docs, you can access features using the keyboard, with a new way to search menu and toolbar options. New keyboard shortcuts and verbalization improvements also make it easier to use Docs, Sheets and Slides with a screenreader” Google said in a blog.
The latest stable version of Chrome, released last week, includes support for the Web Search API, which developers can use to integrate speech recognition capabilities into their apps. At CSUN, our friends from Bookshare demonstrated how they use this new functionality to deliver ReadNow—a fully integrated ebook reader for users with print disabilities.
Google has also released a new Help Center Guide specifically for blind and low-vision users to ease the transition to using Google Apps.
It added Braille support to Android 4.1; since then, Braille support has been expanded on Google Drive for Android, making it easier to read and edit your documents. You can also use Talkback with Docs and Sheets to edit on the go.
With Gesture Mode in Android 4.1, one can reliably navigate the UI using touch and swipe gestures in combination with speech output.
The latest release of TalkBack (available on Play soon) includes several highly-requested features like structured browsing of web content and the ability to easily suspend/resume TalkBack via an easy-to-use radial menu.
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