[Athen] Google tests web search for blind

sean keegan skeegan at htctu.net
Thu Aug 3 17:28:05 PDT 2006

I have seen the new google accessible search and have some mixed reactions
about it. From the user's perspective, it is much easier to use with a
screen-reader and can be "reflowed" reasonably well. TV Raman seems to be
the one who really put some work behind this (he is the blind developer who
created Emacspeak), so it is not surprising that it is designed for those
using screen-readers.

My concern about this, however, is how Web developers will interpret this
new search function. There is a difference in search results between the
accessible search and the regular google search - the accessible search
relies on a different page ranking algorithm to identify Web sites that are
"screen-reader friendly". There is a whole field of Web "professionals"
dedicated to giving their company the highest ranking possible for the
google search results. It would be unfortunate if we saw the reappearance
of "text-only" sites in an attempt to get the ranking high on both the
regular google search AND the accessible google search.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out...

Sean Keegan
Web Accessibility Instructor
High Tech Center Training Unit, California Community Colleges

-----Original Message-----
From: athen-bounces at athenpro.org [mailto:athen-bounces at athenpro.org] On
Behalf Of James Bailey
Sent: Thursday, August 03, 2006 2:43 PM
To: Access Technologists in Higher Education Network
Subject: [Athen] Google tests web search for blind

Interesting article at:

Here's a teaser:
"TV Raman, a research scientist at Mountain View, California-based Google,
said his project sorts search results based on the simplicity of page
layout, the quality of design and the organization and labeling of
information on each page."

James Bailey
Adaptive Technology Access Adviser, University of Oregon
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403-1299
Office: 541-346-1076
jbailey at darkwing.uoregon.edu

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