Google is announcing a handful of new accessibility-oriented features, including the ability to add alt-text to images sent using Gmail. The features come as part of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, held annually on the third Thursday of May.
The ability to add alt-text to images on Gmail is rolling out now
Google said the image alt-text feature on Gmail is rolling out immediately. This will particularly help people who rely on screen readers to get an accurate audio description of an image. Additionally, people who use American Sign Language or ASL will welcome the addition of multi-pin on Google Meet. Using this feature, people who are deaf or hard of hearing can pin both the presenter and the interpreter’s screen together, thereby speeding up communication (via Android Police).
YouTube users with visual impairments can now find audio descriptions of videos. These descriptions will explain the contents of the video as they occur. Google says the feature will roll out to all English content on YouTube Originals from a year ago or newer.
Project Euphonia is gaining support for four new languages
Google’s ambitious research initiative known as Project Euphonia is also getting a boost with new languages. Euphonia now supports French, Hindi, Japanese, and Spanish. This 2019 initiative looks to “create more inclusive speech recognition models” with assistance from people with speech impairments. “With this expansion, we can create even more helpful technology for more people — no matter where they are or what language they speak,” Google said about the update.
The company also offered an update on its programs aimed at helping people with disabilities:
“We need to work to make sure our teams at Google are reflective of the people we’re building for. To do so, last year we launched our hiring site geared toward people with disabilities — including our Autism Career Program to further grow and strengthen our autistic community,” said Eve Andersson, Senior Director, Product Inclusion, Equity, and Accessibility at Google.
“Most recently, we helped launch the Neurodiversity Career Connector along with other companies to create a job portal that connects neurodiverse candidates to companies that are committed to hiring more inclusively,” Andersson further said.