Google announces accessibility improvements

posted Sep 25, 2014, 8:31 AM by Rita Girardi

Google recently announced improvements to Drive and the editors for Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings, and Forms—specifically designed with blind and low-vision users in mind. Note that the ITS accessibility team continues to monitor and test all of Google's products. The updates listed below have not been been verified or endorsed by ITS.

Summary of Google Announcement

Improved screen reader support in Drive and Docs
The new version of Drive, introduced in June, includes better keyboard accessibility, support for zoom and high-contrast mode and improved usability with screen readers. Across Docs, Sheets, Slides, Drawings and Forms, it’s now easier to use a screen reader, with better text-to-voice verbalization and improvements to keyboard navigation.

Refreshable braille display support
You can now use a braille display to read and enter text in Docs, Slides and Drawings. In addition, braille support (even without the display) allows screen reader settings for character echoing to be automatically followed. Enabling braille also dramatically reduces the lag between when you press a key and when it’s announced by your screen reader, and improves the announcements of punctuation and whitespace. Learn how to enable braille support in Google's Help Center.

Improved support
Google has released new step-by-step accessibility guides for Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Forms and Drawings. You can also access the in-product “Help” menu at any time without interrupting your work, or use the updated shortcut help dialog to easily search through keyboard shortcuts. Finally, Google is now offering phone support for Google Drive accessibility questions: visit to request a phone call and someone from Google will contact you.

Read the full post from Google for more information. 

U-M Statement re: Google Accessibility

We see continued improvement across all assistive technologies, including JAWS (a program used by many blind individuals). While we continue to focus on achieving full accessibility of Drive and Docs for blind users, we also monitor Google's progress on other applications, such as Slides and Sheets, and other assistive technologies, such as Dragon Naturally Speaking. Based on the progress we are seeing, we are optimistic about Google's commitment to accessibility.