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ARIA for Google Calendar, Finance and News

From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. In our continued efforts to make Google applications more accessible, we have launched ARIA support for several Google applications over the last few months. W3C ARIA is a set of HTML DOM properties that enables adaptive technologies like screenreaders to work better with dynamic web applications. As with previous ARIA-enabled Google solutions, screenreader users can now switch on ARIA support in the following applications by activating an invisible Enable Screenreader Support link. Alternatively, simply browse to the links in this blog with a supporting screenreader and Firefox 3.0 to experience the interface enhancements. If you do not have a screenreader installed, but are curious to experience what eyes-free interaction with these applications feels like, we recommend the freely downloadable Firefox enhancement Fire Vox by Charles Chen.
  1. Google Calendar: The ARIA-enhanced Google Calendar enables speech-enabled access to the day view in Google Calendar. You can use the keyboard to move through events, move through the days of the week, as well as to cycle through your various calendars. As you work with the calendar, the application raises appropriate DOM events through W3C ARIA to invoke the relevant spoken feedback through the screenreader.
  2. Google Finance: The Finance page can be viewed as a set of logical panes, with related content appearing as items in each pane. The ARIA-enhanced version of Google Finance enables you to switch panes, and navigate the current pane with the arrow keys. Navigation produces spoken feedback through the screenreader. In addition, Google Finance provides several power user tools, including a stock screener, all of which are speech-enabled through ARIA. These power user tools provide interesting examples for Web developers experimenting with ARIA. (ARIA support for Finance was developed by intern Svetoslav Ganov as his starter project.)
  3. Google News: Finally, we have added ARIA support to enable rapid eyes-free access to Google News. These enhancements follow the same pattern as seen earlier for Google Finance, and the ability to navigate between the different views provided by Google News, (e.g., World News vs Sports enables rapid access to the large volume of news that is accessible via the Google News interface).
As with all of our ARIA-enhanced services, you can obtain additional help by pressing the ? key to hear the available list of shortcuts. If you're interested in discussing these enhancements, visit the Google Group for accessibility.

Posted by T. V. Raman, Research Scientist, and Charles L. Chen, Software Engineer


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