Google Chrome is an alternative web browser for those who wish to use an alternative to the big players such as Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Well the forgoing statement is unfortunately not applicable to blind people who utilise screen reading software to use a computer and navigate the internet. I can vouch for this fact as I am registered blind and use Jaws (screen reading software which converts text into speech and braille) to access my computers.
No web browser I have encountered is perfect from the point of view of screen reader users. For example screen users are advised (when using Internet Explorer) to click on the option “screen reader users click here”. I know through bitter experience that failing to do this will render searching the web difficult (but not impossible). However at least Internet Explorer has this option while Firefox is, on the whole relatively accessible to screen reader users. Not so Google Chrome.
On opening Chrome when using a screen reader the blind person is informed that the browser is open. It is also possible to open a website in Chrome however, having done so the blind computer user is then unable to navigate around rendering Chrome about as useful as a wet paper bag in a thunder storm.
On it’s accessibility pages Google proudly states that “<HTML><META HTTP-EQUIV=”content-type” CONTENT=”text/html;charset=utf-8″>
As part of Googleâ€™s mission to make the worldâ€™s information universally
accessible and useful, weâ€™re committed to making accessibility a reality for all
of our users, including those with disabilities.” This claim rings somewhat hollow as regards Chrome which despite having been availible for several years is in my experience still wholly useless to me as a blind computer user.
I understand that Google has launched a laptop/notebook which operates with Google Chrome and this may be accessible to blind PC users, (not having had personal experience of this laptop I can’t comment on the accessibility or otherwise of the product other than to refer to the fact that a number of visually impaired people have used the laptop). However I can state that on last attempting to use Chrome some 20 minutes ago it was wholly useless for the reasons set-out above.
Given the huge resources at the command of Google it is surely not beyond them to make Google Chrome accessible.
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