Technology September 2, 2020
Google Docs has new, improved features for visually impaired users
Google has said it is working to improve braille support in Docs with a set of new features that cover navigation and output. It starts with a new keyboard shortcut. Read on to know more!
Google has announced several improvements to braille support in Google Docs for users of assistive technologies. The features include refreshable braille displays to work on documents.
These changes will enhance the experience of reading documents with new keyboard shortcuts, improved navigation, and more reliable verbalisations. We encourage assistive technology users to enable braille support when working in Docs”, said Google in a statement.
Five new features
Some of the changes already evident are:
- A new Ctrl+Alt+H on Windows and CMD+Option+H on Mac shortcut to toggle braille support in Docs, Sheets, and Slides.
- While using shortcuts to navigate, there are now announcements regarding where your cursor moves to, including comments, headings, misspellings, and suggestions.
- Greater reliability while navigating through lengthy documents and lists.
- Images, misspellings, and grammar errors are now verbalised directly by assistive technology.
- Improved navigation and selection verbalisations when moving through tables and when selecting content, including announcing the entire cell’s contents.
To benefit, users have to update to the latest versions of their assistive technologies and browsers. There is no Admin control for this feature. It will be on by default for users with braille support turned on.
Enabled by default for some users
“These five features will be rolling out over the coming weeks and enabled by default to all G Suite customers and users with personal Google Accounts”, says Google.
Welcoming the announcement, Milan Mittal, a visually impaired corporate lawyer with IndusLaw, said, “I think this is a very useful feature especially for visually impaired people in professions like law which involve going through long briefs and documents”.
Screen reader accessibility of Google Docs has always been an issue, points our visually impaired Gujarat-based lawyer Maitreya Shah. “Some of the features mentioned are for braille users which is not something many blind people use as reliability on screen readers has increased. But the other features like verbal description of images, improvement in table readability and alt description of images I am really look forward to. These are things we have been facing issues with and they will be very useful for people using screen readers”.
Sentiments echoed by Karpagam M, Madras High Court‘s first visually impaired lawyer and someone who uses assistive technologies extensively in her work. “The latest update on Google Docs providing this improved braille support and verbalisation will certainly prove to be a modern moral compass for all the sailors with visual impairment to sail through the ocean of knowledge in this real virtual world”.