National Federation for the Blind Wants Accessible Google Apps

Lora Bentley

It's old hat for Google to defend itself against privacy advocates concerned about the information the search giant collects on its users. That happens once a month, if not more often. It's also old hat for the company to answer questions posed by various government regulators.


This week, however, Google is hearing from a different group. reported Tuesday the National Federation for the Blind is blasting Google Apps for being inaccessible to blind users. The NFB alleges Google's Gmail, Docs, Calendar and other applications present "significant accessibility barriers" for those who use screen readers or other assistive technologies.


In a statement, Google SVP Alan Eustace said company representatives left a "productive meeting" with NFB President Marc Maurer with a better understanding of the importance of accessibility and a "strong commitment to improving" its products.


Taking things a step further, however, the NFB wants the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Civil Rights to look into whether schools that have adopted and use Google Apps, are in fact violating the rights of students and faculty. Maurer has requested that New York University and Northwestern University suspend use of Google's tools until the company makes improvements to their accessibility.

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