With a visual impairment, using any software or service can be anything from tricky to impossible. Windows and other operating systems have long included features that make them easier for blind and partially sighted people to use, and now Google is adding similar playing-field-levelling features to Google Drives and Docs. While traditional desktop software has been quick to adopt new methods of opening up to as many people as possible, the same cannot be said of online tools - Google is looking to change that.
Starting today, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms all feature support for Alt tags for images, as well as better text-to-voice conversions. Tweaks include support for vocalised spelling correction suggestions, as well as the ability to listen to comments that have been added to shared documents. The arrival and departure of collaborators something else that's now spoken aloud. Changes are also to be found in the many keyboard shortcuts - additional shortcuts are now available to provide access to a wider range of tools and option than before, including the editing of charts and pivot tables.
Docs is gaining support for Braille displays and Google has put together a series of guides (opens in new tab) to help newcomers get to grips with a feature that can be a little overwhelming. There are some nice touches such as the option to have Docs read announce the formatting that is in use at the current location so it can be replicated elsewhere.
There's a new accessibility website (opens in new tab) that gives a full rundown of what’s now available, and in the video below, Google shows off just how helpful the new accessibility option can be:
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