News

How accessible are Google Apps?

By Meris Stansbury
November 14th, 2012

NC State University provides Google Apps Accessibility Usage Guidelines.

Technology, often associated with helping to make life easier and more accessible, isn’t always as usable for some as others, accessibility researchers say. And with Google Apps quickly becoming a go-to solution for schools and colleges nationwide, it’s critical to know exactly how accessible these apps are for students with disabilities.

The Access Technology Higher Education Network (ATHEN), a professional association whose purpose is to collect and disseminate best practices in accessible technology for colleges and universities, has performed a number of functional tests on various Google applications, including Google Docs, GMail, and Calendar.

And though researcher and technology accessibility specialist Terrill Thompson at the University of Washington says that many improvements have been made, these efforts largely have targeted screen reader users and have not considered people with other types of disabilities.

ATHEN’s tests show that many people with disabilities are “currently unable to successfully use these applications, and the level of support for assistive technologies ranged from being able to perform many, but not all, of the functions to not being able to use the applications at all,” Thompson said during the EDUCAUSE 2012 conference in Denver last week.

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About the Author:

Meris Stansbury

Meris Stansbury is the Editorial Director for both eSchool News and eCampus News, and was formerly the Managing Editor of eCampus News. Before working at eSchool Media, Meris worked as an assistant editor for The World and I, an online curriculum publication. She graduated from Kenyon College in 2006 with a BA in English, and enjoys spending way too much time either reading or cooking.