Brickweb | Design, Build, Maintain & Manage

Google’s Accessible Search for Visually Impaired

It is devastating to think that unfortunately not all of us are blessed with the gift of vision. However, Google have noticed that in providing resources to the visually impaired as well as other handicapped individuals they can benefit. Since then Google have been developing Accessible Search and you can find out more within this article.

If you take a look at the Google main page you will notice that when this is compared with other search engines it is extremely simple in regards to their interface. Even this simplistic look can cause problems though for the visually impaired and the handicapped but where there is a problem Google can usually find a solution! That as mentioned now comes in the form of accessible search.

It provides an interface which is more easily used by people with screen readers or those who have a motor impairment as it gives a higher priority to the pages within the search results which are accessible.

Why do the visually impaired need a specialised search engine?

As part of Google’s goal they want to make information accessible to people on a universal scale. This is a massive goal to try and achieve and most web designs do not reach this goal of accessibility.

Unfortunately when a visually impaired person searches using a search engine they do not receive specialised results, the websites do not contain the information that they want and worse still they cannot access the web page. This is when Google has stepped in and made it easier in that now these users do not have to trawl through dozens of sites to find one which they can easily access the information but instead these will now show at the top of the results.

I own my own site what does this mean for me?

As part of web development this will mean that if you are a website owner then in the future you may need to think about changing your site to make it accessible to the visually impaired and handicapped. Right now Accessibility Search is still in development but if it comes in then what would you need to change?

What makes a page accessible to a visually impaired person?

We have not long since completed a website for our customer Bolton Society for Blind People and their website had a lot of features which needed to be included in order to make this accessible.

Items that you need to consider are listed briefly below:

  • How simplistic are your website pages?
  • How much visual imagery does it contain?
  • Is the page functional when only using keyboard navigation instead of a mouse?

For Brick technology there has been many times when certain guidelines need to be used and namely this is W3C Web Accessibility Initiaitive (WAi) and currently there are three levels of compliance to this:

  1. A
  2. AA
  3. AAA

How can I make my site more accessible?

If the site is already in existence then it can become quite a daunting task in order to comply with the accessibility guidelines which have been laid out. Online there are tools which will look through your pages or an entire website and will work out that particular websites level of compliance.

With an existing web site, it can be such a hard task to attempt to comply with one or another set of guidelines. When you come to Brick technology we will be able to tell you which portions of the site are not accessible and what work must to be done in order to make it compliant.

One of the most cost effective methods is when you first build the website and you sit down with your chosen web design company then you need to bear in mind accessibility issues at this point.

What if I don’t think about accessibility?

Choosing to not think about accessibility can be damaging to both your company and to the visually impaired person. You could see people becoming extremely annoyed at not being able to access your information and various features of your website which may in some cases lead to action being taken against you.

If users feel they are being discriminated against then they could complain and you will find yourself in a costly legal battle. By providing websites which already come or incorporate the accessibility which they need you can save yourself money and hassle.

For more information then please contact Brick technology on 01254 277190 or email info@brickweb.co.uk.