Google Apps Accessibility

As explained in our FAQs, students are not required to use Smoogle Apps. Students are welcome to take advantage of all the Google Apps for group projects or other needs but the Smith School does not require or recommend the usage of Google Apps and instead suggests that students use the tools that work best for them. 

The Google Application Suite offers a lot of potential to our users because of its ability to facilitate collaboration. However, Google has not built in the necessary accessibility features to allow all users, especially people with certain functional impairments, to easily collaborate in this environment. While we are excited about, and want to promote the collaborative nature of the Google Application Suite on campus, caution must be used in planning how to use it. These guidelines delineate the ways in which Smith School's Google Apps may be used accessibly.

These issues must be kept in mind when reading these guidelines.

  • These guidelines refer to the appropriateness of using the Smith School's Google Apps strictly from an accessibility perspective. 
  • These guidelines do not cover the use of any of the non-Smith School Google Apps, such as any consumer version of the apps accessed outside of Smoogle.
  • Google constantly updates their application suite with improvements and new features. The information in this site is kept as up-to-date as possible. If you believe some of the information needs to be updated please contact helpme@rhsmith.umd.edu.

Personal Use of Google Apps @ the Smith School

There is no limitation on using any Google Apps product for your own personal use, from taking notes to preparing course materials. The limitations begin when the content in Google Apps is shared with others or when requiring others to participate in an activity within Google Apps.

General Rules About Sharing Content With Others

  • When appropriate, converting content to a Microsoft Office document format and using it offline usually creates the most accessible version of the content, although the author may need to take extra steps to add in the necessary accessibility information.
  • Publishing directly to a static HTML format from within a Google App does not necessarily create a more accessible version of your content.
  • PDF files created directly from within Google Docs will have significant accessibility problems.

Usage Guidelines

Assistive Technology Users

If you use an assistive technology, here are recommendations for how to interact with your Smith School Google Apps Gmail and CalendarAdditionally, if you open a Google Doc and would like to download it to a more accessible Microsoft Office format, you can use our Download Google Doc to Microsoft Office Bookmarklet. (Thanks to NC State University who provided the original Bookmarklet).

Additional Resources

For more information on the accessibility of Google Apps, please refer to the following information:




  • Thanks to NC State University for source materials for large portions of this accessibility documentation.