This Tuesday - due to invitation by Paul Kinlan and Filip Hráček (thank´s guys ;-) - I attended Google Developer Day in Prague. Paul gave a speech called Making Your Web Apps Accessible Using HTML5 and ChromeVox and my brief talk was a part of it.
Paul talked about the importance of keyboard navigation, labelling form elements, use native HTML tags, ARIA roles, states and properties and of course of use of ChromeVox to evaluate accessibility.
I mainly focused on two issues - Google effort to be more accessible for people with disabilities and cooperation of Google Chrome with common screenreaders such as JAWS or NVDA together with practical demonstration of it.
Google effort to be more accessible for people with disabilities
In the first part of my talk I mentioned some issues related to accessibility of Google services. Google search is fully accessible and people with disabilities have been using it for years. Android can also be accessible for the blind and even though there are things that still need to be done to reach full accessibility, there are a few blind users in the Czech republic who use phones with Android. For more information (in Czech) see www.blind-android.cz or pavelondra.posterous.com Survey on Computer Usage Patterns together with American Council of the Blind is another proof, that Google takes accessibility seriously and try to improve accessibility of its services, such as Google Docs and Google Calendar, where there are new keyboard shortcuts and some support for screenreaders.
The last topic in this part was our attempt to establish Accessibility Google user group as a part of Gug.cz. I hope that this group will start as soon as possible and wish Pavel Ondra to be a good leader of it.
Google Chrome and JAWS
The second part of my talk was dedicated to practical brief demo how to use Google Chrome with common screenreader - namely with JAWS. Now, blind users can use not only Windows Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox, but also Google Chrome for browsing the web. I demonstrated to the participants how to navigate the web page simply using JAWS features Headings list and Links list.
Many improvements still have to be made before Google services are fully accessible to the blind, but the enhancements that have already been done indicate a commitment to accessibility by Google.
In the end of my talk I truly appreciated Google for having started with accessibility and tried to persuade the auditorium of the importance of accessibility and motivated them - if accessibility is important for Google (and other big companies such as Apple or Seznam.cz), it should be also important for them.
A lot of questions after our session showed me that it was good that this session was a part of this year GDD.
Are you interested in accessibility? Me and my colleagues are ready to help all of you who want to make their websites or services accessible ;-) Feel free to contact us.