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Google Lauded for Accessible Search

ScuttleMonkey posted about 8 years ago | from the ubiquitous-search dept.

Google 102

With the recent release of a modified version of their search engine, Google is receiving praise from many different groups. The new Google Accessible Search was released as a Google labs project which prioritize pages based on their likelihood of being accessible to visually impaired users after the original search results are returned. From the article: "The best-known guidelines for building an accessible site are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) from W3C. But these are not the basis of Google's new service. Raman said: 'We don't test against WCAG. We think in the spirit of those guidelines, but we don't test against them verbatim.' Instead he endeavored to identify 'what works for the end-user,' describing a process of 'experimentation, training and machine learning.'"

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102 comments

FIEST TROUT! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766239)

I AM A FISH!

In related news (5, Funny)

Marcos Eliziario (969923) | about 8 years ago | (#15766259)

A Microsoft source revealed that MSN will have "Accessible Search Personal Experience Edition(TM)" available next winter. ASPEE will require customers to buy "Microsoft Genuine Advantage Neural Control Implant(TM)". According to Microsoft the use of a neural implant will be advantageous to customers, because they will be automatically "shut-down" if caught using a non-genuine version os "Windows for Brains", what would help them to be law-abiding citizens.

Re:In related news (5, Interesting)

Utopia (149375) | about 8 years ago | (#15766318)

Here is a stupid fact:
Search for 'Search' on the goog lab's accessible search page.
MSN.com is listed as the first.

Does that make MSN.com the most accessible compliant search page?
I know/read that MSN.com has the highest complaince for CSS and HTML compared to the other portal pages.
But accessible I think not.

Re:In related news (1)

SnprBoB86 (576143) | about 8 years ago | (#15766492)

Google for "search" with the non-accessable search page:

http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=search [google.com]

You get MSN anyway.

Re:In related news (1)

Vandilizer (201798) | about 8 years ago | (#15766631)

What is more interesting but not surprising at all is that is you search on msn.com or search.msn.com for "search" or "search engine" google or most any of Microsoft's competitors are not even there.

Re:In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766804)

Check again.
Its search.msn.com on regular search
and msn.com the portal home page on the accessibility page.

Different albiet related sites.

Re:In related news (-1, Flamebait)

jlarocco (851450) | about 8 years ago | (#15766543)

Does that make MSN.com the most accessible compliant search page? I know/read that MSN.com has the highest complaince for CSS and HTML compared to the other portal pages. But accessible I think not.

This is blatant FUD. Unless you're blind, previously blind, or some kind of useability expert specializing interfaces for the blind, nobody gives a fuck about your opinion. Do you have ANY evidence whatsoever that MSN's search results are less accessible to the blind? Have you done some kind of study or something? No, you haven't, so shut the fuck up. You're just saying that because you're a Google whore, or because you hate Microsoft.

Re:In related news (4, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | about 8 years ago | (#15766578)

ANY evidence whatsoever that MSN's search results are less accessible to the blind?
If I use Opera's "ignore author style" mode, it seems that the MSN search homepage is reasonably clean. It's just that the search box doesn't appear earlier than after about 8 pages of links for shopping, news, sports, money, and so on, even though in the formatted version, the search box is near the top of the page. Both in Yahoo Search and the standard Google search, the search box is quite close to the logical top of the page.

Re:In related news (2, Informative)

jlarocco (851450) | about 8 years ago | (#15766678)

What? MSN's search doesn't have anything on the page other than a search box. You do know you can just go to search.msn.com, right? In fact, in Opera, you can just add a new search using:

http://search.msn.com/results.aspx?q=%25s [msn.com]

And not even need to go there.

Also, if you add this to your user CSS:

div#ads_rightC {
display: none;
}
div#ads_topC {
display: none;
}

It will get rid of the ads in the search results.

Re:In related news (1)

pavon (30274) | about 8 years ago | (#15766763)

That's true, but not really relevant. The OP's point wasn't that MSN sucked, but that the google accessibility search put msn.com (not search.msn.com) at the top of the list, when it didn't belong there. From that example, it seems like the google accessibility search is capable of determining if a site is accessible in general (which msn.com is), and if it meets the search terms. But it does not appear capable of determining if the particular information searched for is accessible, or if a site is easy for to use for a given purpose.

On the other hand if you query for "web search" then search.yahoo.com and search.msn.com are the top two entries, which makes more sense.

Re:In related news (1)

+Suez (990479) | about 8 years ago | (#15767812)

and if I enter "web search", the first is Yahoo!.com and the second is MSN.com, then Google itself...

Re:In related news (1)

Supersonic1425 (903823) | about 8 years ago | (#15766946)

actually those links are for what type of search you're doing (images, shopping, etc.), so it's logical that they're above the search box.

Re:In related news (1)

rm69990 (885744) | about 8 years ago | (#15767523)

Ummm...I think he is saying that the actual homepage for MSN.com is less accessible, which is true, it's a bloody mess. You don't need evidence to see that, all you need is a set of friggin eyes.

The funny thing is, he specifically said "MSN.com", not MSN's search results.

Re:In related news (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15767427)

I wonder if this has anything to with microsofts huge network and number of links back to msn seeing that google partly bases ranking on number of links to that page?

Re:In related news (1)

kyofunikushimi (769712) | about 8 years ago | (#15770019)

Also, myspace.com still shows up on the first page of results for certain queries. Seeing as how javascript is required to adequately browse the site, I doubt that would fall under the "accessible" category.

Re:In related news (1)

8ball629 (963244) | about 8 years ago | (#15766364)

Actually, its "Windows Accessible Search Live Beta".

Re:In related news (1)

tomstdenis (446163) | about 8 years ago | (#15766401)

"Windows Acessible Search Live.Net Beta XP Pro Edition"

[The spelling was intentional, MSFT can invent their own spellings, they're MSFT afterall].

Tom

Re:In related news (1)

8ball629 (963244) | about 8 years ago | (#15766425)

Right, that was it. Look for the newer, "more secure" version coming "soon".

"Windows Acessible Search Live.Net Beta XP Pro Edition SP 2"

[The spelling was intentional, MSFT can invent their own spellings, they're MSFT afterall].
They are the Shakespeares of yesterday's technology and today's exploits aren't they?

Accessibility is better than Flash (5, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 8 years ago | (#15766277)

The more accessibility is known, the less we'll have websites made in Flash (or Flash navigation menus, Flash content, etc).

Flash webmasters: If you can't handle the real Web, you might as well put PDFs online instead of a real website. The Web is not TV, the Web is not a bitmap graphic, the Web is not a newspaper. You can't assume anything about the reader (text, speech, screen size (if any), download speed, etc). Or at least stop calling your Flash files "websites". Thanks.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (5, Funny)

bigtrike (904535) | about 8 years ago | (#15766304)

The Web is not TV, the Web is not a bitmap graphic, the Web is not a newspaper.

It's not like a truck, it's a series of tubes.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

TroopaCabra (787941) | about 8 years ago | (#15766743)

HAHAHAHAHHAHAHA Lolz!

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766756)

The Web is not a resting place, the Web is the people. I am the Web, you are the Web, we are the Web together...

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (4, Insightful)

Bogtha (906264) | about 8 years ago | (#15766343)

The more accessibility is known, the less we'll have websites made in Flash (or Flash navigation menus, Flash content, etc).

Sadly, this isn't the case. Using Flash doesn't make something less accessible, even older versions without support for screenreaders. It's when people use Flash without a fallback that accessibility problems arise. And of course, the latest versions of Flash have support for alternative user-agents built in.

The stupid web developers that annoy people with improper use of Flash can continue to annoy people and still create perfectly accessible websites. Accessibility != usability.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766355)

Even modern Flash's support for accessibility is crap. Alternative content is fine, but people thinking that Flash has 'support for alternative user-agents built in' is madly misleading.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766356)

If your flash site has a fallback then you can just host the fallback, you don't need the flash site anymore.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

Bogtha (906264) | about 8 years ago | (#15766789)

I completely agree, but the problem is that the web developers — or their bosses — perceive the Flash version as being superior. Most of them don't even consider the possibility that somebody would have Flash installed but prefer the alternative content.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (2, Insightful)

Yvan256 (722131) | about 8 years ago | (#15766913)

Most of them don't even consider the possibility that somebody would have Flash installed but prefer the alternative content.

Such as myself. I usually surf using Safari with the plug-ins disabled. There's nothing more annoying than arriving at an empty white/black page that does absolutely nothing... because it's a "Flash intro" with the "skip button" inside the flash.

News Flash: websites don't need an "intro" or "splash" page... The "main page" should be the "entry page" (like Slashdot, for example).

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

Feyr (449684) | about 8 years ago | (#15766982)

the company i work for design websites.

most customers dont even consider a site without flash a web site. and they laugh when you bring up accessibiity.
they contaminated the developpers too

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

Bogtha (906264) | about 8 years ago | (#15767035)

In my experience, clients don't act anything even close to what you describe unless the sales people in your organisation have been persuading them that they need to spend extra money on "essential" Flash. Once you get a bit of experience doing sales yourself, you quickly find that the people just asking about specific technology are in a minority, let alone demanding specific technology.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

Feyr (449684) | about 8 years ago | (#15767339)

those customers are mostly tv show producers (that's one of our primary sector) with some experience from previous shows. so yes they do ask for flash, or they ask for things that can't be done (not with any kind of ease) without flash.

we also do interactive TV, and the box for that (provided by scientific atlanta) doesn't accept anything BUT flash and xml

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

foniksonik (573572) | about 8 years ago | (#15769678)

Ya know I was thinking the same thing about TV... why even broadcast it when there are like books and magazines that serve the same purpose? Let's not stop there though... get rid of video games too, I mean can't we all just play boardgames again...or paper/pencil and dice games???? and forget cars and bikes and other forms of transportation... we can all just walk. Also, who needs all this fancy technology and education... the species will continue without it...

Down with progress and innovation... long live the lowest common denominator!!!!!

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15770327)

TV is using its own distribution channel. They didn't start printing books where some pages contain bar codes which encode a video that you can watch with a special decoder.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (2, Insightful)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 8 years ago | (#15766398)

The Web is not TV
The web is whatever I feel like putting on it. Or hadn't you heard?

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#15766466)

No. The Internet is not something you can just put something on.

- Ted Stevens

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

exp(pi*sqrt(163)) (613870) | about 8 years ago | (#15767485)

Keep reading up on it. Eventually you too will figure out how to put something on the web.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15767859)

"'The Web is not TV'

The web is whatever I feel like putting on it. Or hadn't you heard?"

Ok. The web is not TV, unless you're retarded. Better?

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (0)

Khuffie (818093) | about 8 years ago | (#15766480)

So Google Video and YouTube should stop using Flash to serve videos? I'll send them a memo. I'm sure they'll jump right on that, just for you.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (3, Informative)

jrockway (229604) | about 8 years ago | (#15767836)

> So Google Video and YouTube should stop using Flash to serve videos?

Yes, they should. Why should we be tied to one proprietary platform (flash) when there are plenty of lower-bandwidth, higher-quality, lower-priced solutions? Flash is kind of convenient, but not if it doesn't run on your platform or OS (Flash's license doesn't meet the DFSG guidelines, so I can't use it). I can't use YouTube at all as a result. At least Google lets me download the files in industry-standard formats that play easily on my system. (I would prefer that they use Ogg/Theora, but I'm willing to meet them half-way. Let me use my own video player, and I'm happy.)

As for flash in general, it's mostly a waste. Again, I'm willing to meet halfway if they used SVG + ECMAscript instead. Then I could actually watch it on my computer. (And a screenreader could easily get at whatever text was in the SVG -- it's just plain text after all -- so SVG+scripts is much more accessible than flash.)

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

metalpet (557056) | about 8 years ago | (#15766542)

You may be surprised to learn Flash has some built-in accessibility features.
http://livedocs.macromedia.com/flash/mx2004/main_7 _2/00001182.html [macromedia.com]

I know it's popular to hate on flash, a bit like it was popular to hate on javascript a few years back, and let's face it, there's enough bad uses of the technology it's easy for people that don't understand it to throw a blanket statement and say "All flash is bad, kthx."

Hopefully, as better built flash-using sites become more prevalent, and as people learn more about flash itself, things will improve, just like they did with javascript^WAJAX.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | about 8 years ago | (#15766584)

Flash has all the APIs and tools needed to make its movies entirely 100% accessible. You can't blame Macromedia/Adobe because webmasters don't *use* them.

Guess what? Windows has all the accessibility tools easily available, too, but how many Windows programs can't even cope with changing the default font size? It's not Microsoft's fault; they did their work.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (2, Insightful)

Twillerror (536681) | about 8 years ago | (#15766621)

Wow what a rant, that got up to 5 ( Insightful ). Way to go slashdot.

HTML/CSS/JavaScript like any technology is getting old. It wasn't designed to really be for applications. Now we have Ajax hacks and a slew of other crap to try and make it like a normal desktop app...things that flash and java applets ( yes I know applets are not that great ) just do.

Flash can be just as accesible if not more then a web page...it is all in the tools that make it accesible. Imagine if I wrote a flash app specifically for blind people...I'm guessing I could get a lot further then with just a web page.
Instead of trying to make a page accessible...i'd rather see a version of the app written specifically for blind people. It'd be better if google or other companies teamed up with another company, give them the raw content as XML and let them expose it in a way that will make it easier to access. Browser are inherently visual are they not....maybe it'd make more sense for google to try and expose the information in a way that could be converted to brail or audio easily.

Yes there are issues.
http://www.webaim.org/techniques/flash/ [webaim.org]

I'm sorry to the individuals out there that have disabilities. At the same time some content that is very hard if not impossible to make accessible can make it far easy to access for people without a disablity to use it. We need to find ways to appease both communities.

What does the poster mean by the "real Web". And they SHOULD just post PDFs on the side of their content, they are way more accesible then HTML. I mean I'm sure you could get a program to read the content of a PDF far easier then you could get it to strip out text from an html document and read it.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (4, Insightful)

metamatic (202216) | about 8 years ago | (#15766769)

HTML/CSS/JavaScript like any technology is getting old. It wasn't designed to really be for applications.

C is also getting old, and wasn't designed to be used for applications, or for any kind of graphical UI. So what?

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (2, Insightful)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 8 years ago | (#15767890)

It's all about speed.

HTML/CSS are incredibly clumsy to work with, but that can be solved with things like Dojo. But there are some things you really can't speed up -- JavaScript is interpreted pretty much everywhere, and HTML/CSS must be interpreted, because the JavaScript could be modifying the HTML source at any time.

But it's also incredibly difficult to extend HTML/CSS, since even the most recent standard versions will probably never be supported by Internet Exploder. This means that very few new things are ever added that could be useful to an AJAX developer, because anything new will only be supported in one browser, or none at all.

Thus, web applications will always be slower-running, and will probably be slower to develop for a very long time. But C can be almost pleasant to develop in, due to the massive amount of work that's been put into libraries, and it's also fast enough that it's almost a standard benchmark for measuring the speed of other languages.

I am not saying I prefer C, but I don't think C needs to be replaced. But much about the web really does. PHP is hideously ugly, Ruby is ungodly slow, and AJAX is both and then some.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

xtracto (837672) | about 8 years ago | (#15768278)

HTML/CSS/JavaScript like any technology is getting old. It wasn't designed to really be for applications.

So what? there are like 65534 or more number of sockets out there in the internet. Port 80 has already been taken by HTML/www protocol, which as you state is not designed for "applications".

It really pisses me off that people keeps trying to create such things as a spreadsheet or any other application IN THE BROWSER. It is a WEB BROWSER nothing else, its job is to understand HTML and other niceties to display text.

This is a problem similar to sending huge files through EMAIL. Port 25 was mean just for text EMAIL protocols. Go use port 21 and its respective protocol to send files!

If you need those so called "applications" then create them in an adequate language. If you need networking capabilities just use one of the many networking libraries (you dont have to know a darn shit to use the newer networking libraries in .NET or Java).

If you need that everybody can be able to use your application just make your software available to downlad (a single executable file that does not need to be installed). Maintain the last version in a specific page so everyone can download it.

Why dont we make an extension to some FTP server so we can use it as an online forum?, everyone will be able to enter and leave their messages there (or start a new thread creating a folder!), they could even post images if they upload them with the same name as their post plus a .IMAGE extension.

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766720)

Don't hate the player, hate the game.
And the customers shelling out $5,000 - $25,000 for a "competitive" Flash-based site.

Or are your 2.0 morals strong enough to overpower your 1.0 stomach?

Re:Accessibility is better than Flash (1)

the_womble (580291) | about 8 years ago | (#15768125)

The Web is not TV, the Web is not a bitmap graphic

Firstly a lot of people want the web to be more like TV - they want audience behaviour that is predictable (and therefore easier to direct).

Secondly, designers get to design horrible Flash sites because their clients like them. The people who have to use the site may not like it - but the people who pay for it do.

TV Raman (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766281)

The article doesn't say this, but TV Raman is himself blind and author of emacspeak [sourceforge.net] .

Re:TV Raman (0)

pjt33 (739471) | about 8 years ago | (#15766336)

I don't know which article you read, but the one linked in the summary opens with the words "A blind developer at Google" and later on mentions that "Accessible Search is focusing on blind users, largely because Raman is one of them".

Previous /. discussion on Accessible Search (2, Informative)

xmas2003 (739875) | about 8 years ago | (#15766287)

Original discussion [slashdot.org] for background on this followup.

Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#15766311)

Wouldn't Google Accounts and Gmail have a lower HandiRank because the sign-up page requires responding to a visual CAPTCHA? In fact, Gmail requires two: one for the confirmation of a mobile phone service commitment (most phones don't support text to speech for SMS) and one for the Google account.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

Frankie70 (803801) | about 8 years ago | (#15766320)


Wouldn't Google Accounts and Gmail have a lower HandiRank because the sign-up page requires responding to a visual CAPTCHA?


Do what we say, not what we do.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (3, Interesting)

0racle (667029) | about 8 years ago | (#15766349)

They're also not following W3C standards for accessibility. Google can currently do no wrong, even when they do exactly what others would be blasted for as being wrong.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (3, Insightful)

Arker (91948) | about 8 years ago | (#15766483)

I don't think that's exactly true. Notice that they do NOT rank themselves highly on their own accessible search. They aren't cheating here. They do have some problems, but every indication is that they'll be fixing them, not obfuscating like the competition would do.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766797)

I believe his point is that there are HTML errors, deprecated tags, and other accessibility no-nos in their own search result pages. I mean, it's great that they tweaked their PR to favor accessible results, but unless they put forth the same effort as the developers maintaining these accessible sites, the entire goal of delivering accessible content is just silly and pointless. It's not that hard really. I sent some feedback using the link at the bottom of the search page.. Not that they should need to be told to make their own result pages accessible, but in case they do, my conscious is clean.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

rob_squared (821479) | about 8 years ago | (#15767864)

Actually, the first thing I noticed was their mentioning in following the "spirit" of the standards and not the standards themselves.

Now since I haven't read the standards on accessability that the W3C offers, I can't be certain, but wouldn't a technical body that was created to handle standards research and try to make the best set of ideas the actual standard?

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766351)

It's interesting but you guys have to remember this is issued from Google's labs and it will take time before the whole company change its direction, if of any necessity. We shall remember labs are composed of experimentations which may or may not be suitable for the present time of the companies which fund the research.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766389)

Gmail is still a beta service. Please wait until Gmail is released before providing any criticism whatsoever of their service.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (3, Informative)

roach2002 (77772) | about 8 years ago | (#15766441)

Blogger has audio CAPTCHAs now. Check out my blog [blogger.com] for an example.

And they're doing it for accounts too: Check it out [google.com] .

So yes, now they're doing audio CAPTCHAs.

Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#15766593)

now they're doing audio CAPTCHAs.

Good step for blind people with hearing. Now how do I set up a prepaid mobile phone to read the menus and SMS messages aloud?

And it still doesn't help people with Helen Keller's disability [deafblind.com] . Anything that can be read by a Braille display can be read by a spambot.

Re:Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 8 years ago | (#15766831)

a cognitive CAPTCHA could be developed to use logic puzzles and logical associations that are difficult/impossible for a bot but relatively easy for a human mind.

alternately it is very likely that a person lacking both sight and hearing would have some sort of domestic assistance or live in a care facility.

living alone without sight or hearing would probably be quite dangerous.

Re:Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

AnyoneEB (574727) | about 8 years ago | (#15767333)

Cognitive CAPTCHAs have been suggested on /. multiple times, but no one has been able to come up with a puzzle that a computer could generate many puzzles (i.e., too many for a cracking program to simply remember all of them) that would also be simple for a human to solve. I think visual and audio CAPTCHAs are probably sufficient.

Re:Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | about 8 years ago | (#15767255)

A mobile phone also can't help you walk up the stairs if you use a wheelchair. It's a phone, not a fully-functional browser on a desktop.

Sometimes being disabled means you don't have all the same priviledges as the majority of the population. It sucks, but it's life.

Re:Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#15767359)

A mobile phone also can't help you walk up the stairs if you use a wheelchair. It's a phone, not a fully-functional browser on a desktop.

I was referring to the process to get an invite code for Gmail in those countries where Gmail is available.

Sometimes being disabled means you don't have all the same priviledges as the majority of the population.

But there are laws against willingly erecting roadblocks to people with disabilities. In the United States, see the Americans with Disabilities Act and amendments to Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act. In the United Kingdom and Australia, see their respective Disability Discrimination Acts.

Re:Which mobile phone reads SMS aloud? (1)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | about 8 years ago | (#15767727)

Maybe there are cel phones for blind people that I'm unaware of, but how to you propose that a blind person navigate a Motorola menu, launch a browser, type in a URL using Tap or iTap, go to Gmail and try to sign up? And that's even before the CAPTCHA.

I don't know the ADA inside and out, but roadblocks aren't being put in front of disabled people wanting to use Gmail, they just have limited ways in which they can access it and this limited access isn't because Google purposefully went out of their way to say "screw the blind", but because certain methods (like cel phones) have inherent limitations. If you're blind, you need to use a screenreader on a computer, not a phone. Maybe it sucks, but you're blind and you should get used to the fact that your life has a few more hardships than most.

You've also mentioned the deafblind people who probably interface with the web using braille readers. Why not also mention people with no hands and paraplegics? Certainly Google should have to make their website accessible to people who don't have the use of their limbs. Ok, I'm exagerating here but I have a point - companies shouldn't have to go out of their way to provide things for everybody in the world. If you're disabled and a company doesn't offer accesibility features that you want, don't patronize them. Companies should provide features because the market demands it, not because the government mandates it.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

truedfx (802492) | about 8 years ago | (#15766649)

Blogger has audio CAPTCHAs now. Check out my blog [blogger.com] for an example.

I see a non-loading image's alternate text "Visual verification", and the accessibility link takes me to "Page Not Found".

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

Toveling (834894) | about 8 years ago | (#15766758)

Google also has audible CAPTCHAs. Probably doesn't work on mobile phones, but they work fine in your browser.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#15766774)

Google also has audible CAPTCHAs. Probably doesn't work on mobile phones

Which means Gmail remains inaccessible, as it needs a mobile phone. Will it ever come out of beta?

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

JacksBrokenCode (921041) | about 8 years ago | (#15767238)

requires responding to a visual CAPTCHA

If you click the wheelchair next to the CAPTCHA it plays a aural CAPTCHA.

Re:Visual CAPTCHAs in Google's own services (1)

tepples (727027) | about 8 years ago | (#15767356)

If you click the wheelchair next to the CAPTCHA it plays a aural CAPTCHA.

How would that help deafblind people, who normally interact with a computer through a braille terminal?

And can even blind people with good hearing buy a mobile phone and then read SMS on the phone in order to get an invite code?

Porn? (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766335)

Re:Porn? (3, Funny)

SleepyHappyDoc (813919) | about 8 years ago | (#15766443)

Seventh hit on that page: "Porn makes you blind."

Nuff said ;)

Re:Porn? (1)

Arker (91948) | about 8 years ago | (#15766495)

Strangely, nowthatsfuckedup.com (linked from the second link on that search, at least at the moment) is now directed to the polk county sherrif's office. A bit strange...

At any rate, anyone want to grab some karma by posting instructions for making the accessible search the default search in firefox?

Default search (1)

ManoSinistra (983539) | about 8 years ago | (#15766623)

This may be far-fetched, but if there's enough support for it, I wouldn't mind it being the default method of search on Google.

::waits for gasps to subside::

Or, perhaps make it optional (say on Personalized Homepage). I like the way Accessible Search works (plus it makes my sites show higher up :) ).

Re:Porn? (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 8 years ago | (#15767794)

You need to write a search plugin for it. Look at the Google one (/usr/share/firefox/searchplugins/google.src) and edit it. If you want a quick search version, right click the search box and create a quick search from it.

Re:Porn? (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 8 years ago | (#15767904)

I've never found a search for "porn" to return much that's actually porn. So I searched for "sex" on accessible search, and guess what? Apparently playboy.com is accessible...

Currently installing Gentoo on my Powerbook, so I'm stuck in text mode. My browser is links2, which does have graphics support via a framebuffer, but is definitely minimalist and makes stuff look generally out of place...

But playboy.com looks good. I went and read it for the articles. No, seriously, I wanted to see what they had to say about Clerks II...

W3C (4, Insightful)

ManoSinistra (983539) | about 8 years ago | (#15766366)

It is my understanding that part of the "Accessible" algorithm that ranks pages is how well the website follows W3C compliant code (HTML, XHTML, and so forth). If that is so, that's great. It may force people to not only consider good keywords and descriptions as far as SEO goes, but to also make their code more standards-compliant.

Re:W3C (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15766407)

If the results are being weighted for compliance, it doesn't show in search results for my sites. The spammers still have a higher search rank with their inaccessible tagsoup. Croutons for spammers and a fly for those who care, eventually I'll start dining elsewhere.

Re:W3C (1)

nileshbansal (665019) | about 8 years ago | (#15766421)

In that case Google.com will be ranked last. google.com W3C compliance [w3.org] .

Re:W3C (2, Interesting)

richdun (672214) | about 8 years ago | (#15766516)

Wow, I never ran Google.com through the validator. That's pretty small stuff they're tripping on too - no DTD, no quotes around most attributes, etc. I love that in the Maps API (and other places) they recommend strongly that you use XHTML Strict 1.0 (which I do anyway), but they don't even put a DTD in their main page.

Re:W3C (1)

chachob (746500) | about 8 years ago | (#15766548)

They leave all those little things out to minimize the page size. You would too if your page was getting hit as many times per day/hour/minute/second as theirs is.

Re:W3C (1)

richdun (672214) | about 8 years ago | (#15766577)

Good point...

Re:W3C (1)

jZnat (793348) | about 8 years ago | (#15766596)

If they were using semantic and valid XHTML/CSS, they'd save terabytes of bandwidth a week, believe me. Their current mess of table soup is very wasteful.

Re:W3C (1)

fatphil (181876) | about 8 years ago | (#15766712)

And yet they offer 4.18KB, 2.88KB, 2.64KB and 1.38KB images with every page.
That's 3 unecessary transactions, which is worse than just the sum of its parts.

Re:W3C (1)

RonnyJ (651856) | about 8 years ago | (#15766805)

Is it really great? I'm pretty sure that people that need accessible websites would prefer website designers to spend their time on actually making the site more accessible, rather than making the code 'W3C compliant' for a better ranking.

Search for "Tool" (1)

Andorion (526481) | about 8 years ago | (#15766436)

First hit:

Tool - Official Site [Flash required]
www.toolband.com/ - 2k - Cached - Similar pages

You'd think they'd automatically filter "Flash required" sites out? =)

Good that they are not following WCAG... (2, Interesting)

baboonlogic (989195) | about 8 years ago | (#15766500)

WCAG 2.0 is really crappy. Its a standard that hardly achieves any real accessibility. Here is a really good rant on WCAG 2.0 - To hell with WCAG 2.0 [alistapart.com] . Its about the only thing that it seems w3c has got terribly worng.

Google's page doesn't even XHTML validate! (4, Informative)

rklrkl (554527) | about 8 years ago | (#15766705)

For what's supposed to be an "accessible" search engine page [google.com] , Google have made pitiful efforts to even bother validating the XHTML (yes it has DOCTYPE of XHTML 1.0 Transitional). Check out the W3C's validation [w3.org] of it - 8 errors, including some outrageous typos like "bgtcolor" instead of "bgcolor" and no closing slashes (required for XHTML) in their <br> tags. I find it amazing that Google would tout such an search engine on its accessibility merits when it doesn't even validate due to blatant errors that are easily fixable.

Perhaps there's a reason (1)

Sits (117492) | about 8 years ago | (#15766865)

In the slashes case I can think of one good reason why google wouldn't do it - to make the page smaller (few people serve so many pages that this is actually a valid excuse but I can well believe saving one byte would save Google money on heavily trafficked pages). However that typo is less explicable - that just seems wrong (unless someone is making use of a parser error or something). Google's XHTML mobile page [google.com] doesn't seem to have too many errors in but yeah, there's room for improvement.

Re:Perhaps there's a reason (1)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | about 8 years ago | (#15767912)

And Google could shave off kilobytes by not serving images on every page. So what?

Most of the time, I try to make the code as clean and logical as I can, and if it's generated, I usually generate it with as little whitespace as I can. But the single biggest thing I do to save bandwidth is run the thing through mod_gzip or mod_deflate. Second biggest win is actually throwing most redundant data into separate files.

After that, a doctype is just a ludcrous thing to leave out. Couldn't Google make more money by being able to claim they're compliant?

...even worse is that they fail some basic tests. (1)

StandardsSchmandards (828326) | about 8 years ago | (#15767004)

Using valid (X)HTML is no guarantee for accessibility. Worse is that they are mising some basic features in their search page that would have made it more accessible. Run it through BACC - the basic accesibility analyzer [peterkrantz.com] to see some errors.

Re:Google's page doesn't even XHTML validate! (1)

hugzz (712021) | about 8 years ago | (#15767804)

Google's code has never been valid, but it has always been accessable

I don't mean to troll, but... (1)

redkazuo (977330) | about 8 years ago | (#15766794)

If you come to think of it, it must be much easier for Google to understand pages that are visually-impaired-friendly than flashy illogical ones. I recall reading comments about its sentience... one could actually put together a conspiration theory with all this stuff, it seems. But do no evil.

Old project (1)

alerante (781942) | about 8 years ago | (#15766904)

The search result pages say "Copyright ©2000 Google Inc." — accessible search six years in the making!

Weird (0, Offtopic)

Via Negativa (990564) | about 8 years ago | (#15767101)

This can be compared to the one time I was eating captain crunch and my dog sat down on my foot and decided Fit was time to take a piss, ruined a pair of perfectly good socks, and I didn't have a mop handy so my cat came along and Plicked it up. I was just all like O_O WTF.

Re:Weird (1)

corychristison (951993) | about 8 years ago | (#15767451)

... huh?

Tip to people how to make their site better (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#15767304)

On images and hyperlinks, use the ALT and TITLE attributes.
On acronyms and abbrevations, surround them with the and tags.
Make sure sides validate as valid HTML or XHTML.
Use CSS and make sure the CSS validate as valid.
Make the site semantic.
Do not use tables for layout, use CSS such as
.
Use the ACCESSKEY attribute on hyperlinks.

pr0n (1)

peterfa (941523) | about 8 years ago | (#15767562)

Anybody else do a search for pr0n and related terms?

no ads (1)

Anneco (710407) | about 8 years ago | (#15768203)

Did you notice ? No ads in Google Accessible Search. What a relieve!

Amnesty international, not so good press (3, Interesting)

Spliffster (755587) | about 8 years ago | (#15768316)

Google, Yahoo and Microsoft were acused by Amnesty international [google.ch] were accused to "beeing evil".

a couple of days later google releases an accessible search which seems to be rushed out badly (their code doesn't validate to basic HTML standards, let alon WAI and other compatibilities which would really help disabled people).

just a coincidence ? I think not.

They have managed to avoid bad press in the tech world.

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