Accessibility at Google IO 2011

So I attended the first day of Google I/O 2011, my first time at a Google event. I was glad to hear a fair amount of talk about accessibility. There were at least 3 sessions focusing on the topic (see below) and a breakout area where you can talk with developers.

There was even an accessibility “Developer Sandbox” area which was great. I tried out the ChromeVox screen reader on a Chromebook with help from Google’s Rachel Shearer. I got a quick demo of the built-in TalkBack screen reader on an Android mobile device. Mika Pyyhkala and I were shown the LevelStar braille device running Android. The University of Washington showed off their mobile ASL Android project which used video chat technology.

Some tips for Android development from the sessions are:

  • In Android code, ensure images, especially ImageButtons, are labeled with contentDescription.
  • Use standard controls.
  • Stick with standard or modified views; custom very complex to make accessible.
  • Ensure all controls reachable with D-pad and Trackball.
  • Test with screen reader using D-Pad. To turn on, enable accessibility under Settings/Accessibility, then enable Talkback.
  • Take advantage of device’s “many eyes and ears” for alternative input/output (microphone, speaker, touch screen, camera, GPS)

The sessions specific to accessibility were:

More resources:


Tim Credo, Charles Chen, and T.V. Raman on stage at Google I/O.

4 comments

  1. Anonymous

    Not related to your post, but can anyone suggest tools to test for accessibility? I am using CynthiaSays, but I notice that several accessibility-promoting websites do not pass CynthiaSays. (Knowbility.org doesn’t pass, for one). Should I be using something else?

    It’s just so frustrating, I very much want to do the right thing but…either the tools are not available, not available for the price a government-funded little project can pay, or no one will agree what the standards are. Pick any two.

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