Sunday, August 21, 2011

A convenience survey for blind users

These days, we rely on the Internet to keep us knowledgeable and in touch, yet our experience of the web is filtered through the tools we use to access it. The devices and technologies we choose, and our decisions about when we improve those tools, can affect how we interrelate with the web and with whom we are able to communicate.

In July, I attended the yearly conference held by the American Council of the Blind (ACB). I was struck by something I heard from people there: their experience using the web was very dissimilar from mine not because they were blind, but because the technology and web tools obtainable to them were unlike the ones available to me, as a sighted person. While the Internet provides many benefits to modern society, it has also created a exclusive set of challenges for blind and low-vision users who rely on assistive technologies to use the web. We’re committed to making Google’s products more accessible, and we believe the best way to understand the convenience needs of our users is to listen to them.

This week, we’re announcing a review that will help us better understand computer usage and assistive technology patterns in the blind community. Over the past three months, we’ve worked intimately with the ACB to develop a survey that would give us a greater understanding of how people choose and learn about the assistive technologies they use. This survey will help us design products and tools that interact more efficiently with assistive technologies currently available to the blind community, as well as improve our aptitude to educate users about new features in our own assistive technologies, such as ChromeVox and TalkBack.

The survey will be obtainable through mid-September on the ACB's website and by phone. We encourage anyone with a visual impairment who relies on assistive technologies to participate; your input will help us offer products that can enhanced suit your needs. For details, visit

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