October marks National Disability Employment Awareness Month, a time dedicated to recognize and celebrate the contributions of workers with disabilities. On this important occasion, many tech companies like Google are taking significant steps to enhance accessibility of their products and features to the differently abled people.
Google has announced that it is rolling out new features and updates to make accomplishing daily tasks faster and easier. Informing of the same, the tech giant tweeted, “This National Disability Employment Awareness Month, we’re rolling out new features and updates to make accomplishing daily tasks faster and easier — like identifying places nearby, reading fine text, checking for typos in your URL and more ↓”
The company recently launched Lookout image Q&A mode and accessibility updates on Android 14 and Wear OS 4. Now it has more accessible features across its products that are built with and for people with disabilities. Check the features and updates Google has added here:
Features and updates in Maps and Search
“A new identity attribute for the disability community is now available on Google Maps and Search, giving customers more details about a business and providing merchants an option to self-identify as a member of the community,” Google said in a Blog post.
When businesses choose to identify as disabled-owned in their Business Profile, the attribute will appear on their listings in Maps and Search.
Use screen reader capabilities with Lens in Maps
Lens in Maps uses AI and augmented reality to help people use their phone’s camera to orient themselves in an unfamiliar neighborhood and discover new places around them like ATMs, restaurants or transit stations. To make this more accessible and useful for people who are visually impaired or low-vision, screen reader capabilities in Lens in Maps will be coming to iOS starting October 17, and to Android later this year.
Just tap the camera icon in the search bar and lift your phone. If your screen reader is enabled, you will receive auditory feedback of the places around you with helpful information like the name and category of a place and how far away it is.
Walking routes in Google Maps
This feature builds on the wheelchair-accessible transit navigation option in Maps that shows step-free transit routes. If the wheelchair-accessible option is already selected in your transit preferences, Google will automatically apply this to walking routes as well. If you haven’t, just tap the three dots at the top of the screen when you request walking directions, and toggle “wheelchair-accessible” on under route options to receive stair-free directions.
“With the option to request wheelchair-accessible walking routes rolling out globally on iOS and Android wherever we have data available, you can get stair-free routes when you request walking directions in Maps. Not only is this helpful for people who use wheelchairs, but it’s also useful for people traveling with things like luggage or strollers,” the company said.
Customize Assistant Routines with more options
People will now be able to customize routines even more with additional functionality inspired by Action Blocks. Simply select your Routines shortcut style, customize it with your own images and adjust the size of the shortcut on your homescreen.
Search faster in Chrome
Earlier this year, Google introduced a new feature in the Chrome address bar that detects typos and displays suggested websites based on what Chrome thinks you meant. This will help people with dyslexia, language learners or anyone who makes typos get to the content they’re looking for faster. Now, this feature is expanding to Chrome on Android and iOS, so you have the same experience across all your devices.
Notably, there is no clarity on when these features would be launching in India but we hope soon!