Complaint: Colleges Violate Blind Students Rights by Adopting Hard-to-Use Google ProgramsBy Associated Press; Washington Post,
Publication Date: March 15, 2011
Article discusses a complaint filed with the federal government charging two universities with discriminating against blind students by adopting inaccessible software programs. The National Federation of the Blind has requested a Justice Department investigation into the use by New York University and Northwestern University of Google’s Gmail, Docs, Calendar, and Groups programs included in the free suite of Google Apps for Education. The suite was adopted by the universities for campus e-mail and other classroom services used by students to collaborate on assignments. According to a spokesperson for the Federation, accessibility problems occur in the process of creating an account in Gmail and in navigating while relying on screen readers. In addition, a lack of audible descriptions in the Docs word processing and spreadsheet program makes the toolbars invisible to blind users, and typed text is not always audible with text-to-speech technology that draws cues from the screen. The article points out that, although schools are covered by the federal law protecting rights of the disabled, companies such as Google may not have the same obligations with products it creates. Similar action was taken in June of 2010 when the government required schools that use Kindles and other e-book readers in the classroom to ensure the devices had accommodations for blind and vision-impaired students. The article includes a link to an NFB webpage containing Google accessibility demonstration videos.
Published by: Washington Post Company (Website:http://www.washpostco.com)
Link to text: http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2011/03/15/ABpuO3X_story.html?wpisrc=nl_tech
Link to video: http://www.nfb.org/nfb/googleaccessibilityvideos.asp