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, and those who have other 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, the company does offer such features on its products (and even more so since responding energetically to the threat of legal action by the National Federation of the Blind in early 2011).   The company describes accessibility features for blind, low-vision, deaf, and hard-of-hearing users at 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.

Paula Walser,
Oct 19, 2011, 7:39 AM