Google Labs has released a new site that aims to make their search offering more useable for the visually challenged. Many visually challenged people use screen readers to navigate through the internet. Google’s new Accessible Search service is formatted to offer the search results best suited for people relying on screen readers.
The site filters out results that have too much distracting/irrelevant content so that not only the search results are easy to read, but the suggested websites are also “screen reader” friendly.
Google’s Accessible search is one of the services spawned from Google’s commitment to R&D. Google employees are encouraged to spend time on personal projects which they deem interesting or relevant. Dr Raman, the research scientist in charge of the new product, developed the Accessible Search service as his personal research project.
Dr Raman’s reasons for developing the new service were really a case of “necessity being the mother of invention”. The research scientist is in fact blind. In reflection, he realized the project was actually much more difficult than he first expected.
The Accessible Search service further sorts search results based on the page’s layout simplicity, the quality of design employed and the organization and labeling of information on each page. Considering the plethora of busy confusing websites out there, building an algorithm that sifts through the clutter would have been quite a challenge.
It’s quite a remarkable service. Try doing a search on Google’s Accessible Search service and compare it to the tradition Google search results for the same keyword or phrase.
I wonder whether Accessible search is another way for us to further cut through the clutter that Google’s normal search engine results generate. Maybe it’s a handy tool whether you’re visually challenged or not.