The internet plays a huge role in keeping the entire world connected and has also revolutionized the ways in each we work, play, socialize and do business. Internet access is now so important that the United Nations has sponsored conferences which aim to reduce the digital divide between countries and to remind the global community of the need to uphold human rights, even in the digital world.
Some of the world’s biggest tech companies, Microsoft and Google included, are now developing technology and tools that can boost inclusiveness and enable people with disabilities to utilize all that the internet offers productively and comfortably, so they can benefit from the web in all the ways other users do.
Here is a list of six tools and applications that can enhance your time online.
Google is one of the leading companies championing accessibility enhancement. The company is committed to placing accessibility at the forefront when developing products, even at the earliest stages of design. Here are some of the tools Google puts on the web free for everyone to use.
Screen Reader: Chrome’s TalkBack function enables users to receive spoken feedback when browsing pages in Chrome. TalkBack’s navigation settings are designed to be easy to use and require minimal typing, relying on swiping to make and save changes.
Chrome Accessibility Extensions: There is a huge variety of free Chrome extensions designed to enhance accessibility. Users can browse the full range at the Chrome Web Store, and then install their desired applications on their browsers. Some notable free extensions include Readability, which makes web articles more readable by getting rid of desktop clutter, Virtual Keyboard, which makes typing on touch screen devices easier, and Night Mode Eye Guard, which helps protect users’ eyesight.
Inbox by Gmail Accessibility: Inbox by Gmail is designed to be compatible across as wide a range of devices as possible. Android devices enjoy all of Android’s accessibility features, such as screen magnification and the TalkBack, screen reader. iPad and iPhone users can also use the VoiceOver screen reader with Inbox by Gmail.
Gmail buttons as text, not icons: While Gmail’s icons make navigating the email application easy for some, there is the option to change the button labels to text instead of letting them remain on the screen as icons, which can aid those using TalkBack or whose devices display text better.
“Ok Google”: Navigating Google search by voice is possible thanks to the “Ok Google” voice search function. The voice search function can be customized according to users’ language or country. The “Ok Google” method of formulating commands enables users to make queries in a simple, straightforward way. For instance, an inquiry about the weather could be formulated in the following manner: “Ok Google, is it going to rain today?”
YouTube Captions: Foreign language enthusiasts would already have noted the presence of YouTube’s Captions function. Users who upload videos can now add captions to them, and they can be turned on and off at will or swapped for captions in a different language. Also, YouTube automatically provides captions for certain videos. Captions in multiple languages can be added by users. Viewers then select their preferred language from a drop-down menu.
The Internet is one of the most powerful forces driving the modern world, but it is, unfortunately, true that accessibility remains limited for a great many people. Fortunately, efforts to provide a rich and productive online experience for all, including those with disabilities, have been heartening.
At seoWorks, we believe that every SEO Company should do their part to make the web accessible for everyone. We recently published an article on “How Web Accessibility Best Practices Can Improve Website SEO” aiming to help webmasters make their websites accessible and SEO optimized.
We hope that these tools will make the internet more pleasurable and productive.
Photo Credit: Flickr/Ministerio TIC Colombia