Google petitioned on accessibility

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013 13:10pm

Software giant Google has been petitioned by J.P. Shandra, a blind user, to make each of its products usable for people with disability. The petition, posted on global consumer campaigning site, identifies that Google is failing to keep up with its competitors on accessibility.

While Google has made significant steps to improve the accessibility of some of its applications, including Gmail and Chrome, Shandra says that the company fails to integrate the needs of disabled users into its product development.

Shandra identifies the social network Google+ as an example of a product which has been released to the public with inaccessible buttons and form fields.

“The disabled community is tired of hearing accessibility features are coming in updates. They should be there from the beginning. Stop treating your disabled customers as second-class citizens,” said Shandra in the petition’s description. “Moreover, stop treating them like they don't exist at all. We have the right to live a productive life like everyone else.”

Conversely, Apple incorporates accessibility into the development of its devices and software, making its products the first choice of most blind and vision impaired users the world-over.

“Apple designs their products with accessibility in mind from the start. Even if execution isn't perfect, the intention was clearly there,” said Shandra.

According to the World Health Organisation, there are 285 million blind and vision impaired people worldwide. This represents a significant market which Google is failing to reach.

At the time of writing the petition had 125 signatures, but many more are needed to put pressure on Google to change its ways.

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