Google Announces New Accessibility Features

Google Announces New Accessibility Features 

Google, on Thursday, announced a range of accessibility products and feature updates to commemorate Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). This significant day aims to raise awareness about digital accessibility, emphasizing that individuals with disabilities should have equal access to web-based services, content, and other digital products. The tech giant, headquartered in Mountain View, California, highlighted that the introduced products and features were developed by and for people with disabilities.

Live Captions Accessibility Widely Expanded

One of the key updates is the wider accessibility of Live Captions. Users can now utilize Live Captions on Chrome, Android, and Google Meet applications to generate real-time captions. Additionally, Live Captions for calls will enable users to type their responses, which will then be read aloud to the other caller. Google is also testing a new “caption box” feature for Android tablets.

Lookout App Enhanced with AI and DeepMind

Google combined AI and DeepMind to enhance the Lookout app, originally launched in 2019 to assist the visually impaired community. Users can now add alt text to images using the Image Q&A feature, which can describe images even if the original content lacks alt texts and captions. With the Lookout update, users can request additional information about images by typing or using voice commands. The feature is currently being tested with a select group from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) and is expected to be widely rolled out by year-end.

Chrome for Android Updates

The latest update for Chrome on Android introduces URL typo detection and relevant suggestions, a feature already available for desktop users. Android users can expect a gradual rollout of this functionality over the next few months. Additionally, the Google TalkBack feature within Chrome for Android aims to simplify tab management for people with disabilities. The update includes organizing tab lists in grid formats, enabling functions like reordering, bulk tab actions, and tab groups.

Wheelchair-Accessibility Update for Google Maps

Google Maps received an update to enhance wheelchair accessibility. The wheelchair accessibility icon will now be more prominently displayed by default. To further improve this feature, Google is collaborating with business owners, local guides, and the Maps community worldwide.

Faster Text-to-Speech Feature for Wear OS 4

The new updates also include a faster and more reliable text-to-speech feature, which will be integrated into Wear OS 4, as announced at the Google I/O 2023 event.

Global Accessibility Awareness Day serves as a reminder of the importance of inclusive digital experiences. Google’s commitment to improving accessibility through these product updates and features demonstrates its dedication to ensuring equal access for all users.

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