Google has released a bunch of new accessibility features on the occasion of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD). These include Lookout, Wheelchair accessibility, and more, with a mix of AI capabilities. Continue reading below to know more.
New Google Accessibility Features
Google is making Live Captions available to more people. Now, more users can use Live Captions on Chrome, Android, and Google Meet to generate real-time captions. Google is also testing a new “caption box” for Android tablets. Live Captions for calls will allow you to type your responses on call. Your response will be read aloud to the other caller.
There’s the new Image Question and Answers within Lookout. Google introduced Lookout back in 2019 to help the visually impaired community to accomplish everyday tasks with ease. Now, with the Image Q&A feature, Google is combining AI and DeepMind to take Lookout to the next level. This feature will be able to provide descriptions for images irrespective of whether they contain alt texts and captions or not. Users can further make queries about the image either by typing or via voice. Currently, Google is testing this feature with a limited number of people from the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB). Google is planning to start public rollout by the end of the year.
Google’s Chrome browser also gained a bunch of new accessibility features. Now whenever you type URLs, Chrome can detect typos and make relevant suggestions. This feature is already available for Chrome desktop users and will soon roll out to mobile in the coming months. Chrome for Android made managing tabs easier for the specially-abled community with a new update to Google TalkBack. The feature organizes the tab list in the form of a grid to increase functionality. The grid view also adds additional options like reordering, bulk tab actions, and tab groups.
Another new feature is Wheelchair-accessible places in Google Maps. With this latest inclusion, Google will make the “wheelchair accessibility icon” more prominent and visible by default. Google is able to achieve this by collaborating with business owners, local guides, and the Maps community across the globe. With this partnership, Google is able to provide “wheelchair accessibility information for more than 40 million businesses around the world.”
Additionally, there will be new accessibility features, including, a faster and more reliable text-to-speech engine to Wear OS 4. To recall, Google announced Wear OS 4 in Google I/O 2023. With the help of ever-evolving accessibility features and functionalities, Google is bringing technology to everyone. These features are a direct reflection of Google’s work on AI. So, what are your thoughts on these newly announced features? Do let us know in the comments below.