by CIO Staff

Google Accessible Search Targets the Blind

Jul 20, 20062 mins

Google, the world’s top search engine, is running tests of a specialized search mechanism that enables blind or visually impaired people to access information more easily and efficiently on the Web, Reuters reports.

The news comes from T.V. Raman, a blind research scientist with Google and the creator of the new system, according to Reuters.

Google Accessible Search is publicly available on Google’s software test site, and it uses a combination of the Mountain View, Calif.-based firm’s traditional page-ranking process and a system that ranks sites’ functionality based on the simplicity of design as well as consistent labeling of information on pages, among other factors, Reuters reports.

Raman told Reuters that pages with detailed graphical setups that squeeze a large quantity of information onto pages are extremely difficult for blind or visually impaired users to successfully navigate. People who use screen magnifiers to enlarge sections of webpages have a tough time locating specific information on complex graphical sites, and blind users who employ screen readers to turn text into digitized voices are hard put to locate relevant information in a reasonable time on such pages.

Raman, a former IBM Research employee, said related research could lead Google to offer search systems designed for people with specific disabilities, according to Reuters.

Raman was also careful to specify that there is no “good” or “bad” in terms of website accessibility, Reuters reports.

“How accessible or how inaccessible a webpage, from a user’s perspective, is a really relative question,” he told Reuters.

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