5 New Features Google has launched across Products to make the Digital World more accessible

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May 18 is Global Accessibility Day (GAAD) which aims to make the world an even more accessible place for all living beings irrespective of who they are. Google has always been a name that keeps working towards making the world around us more inclusive. With over 1 billion people with disabilities in this world, there’s a lot that can be done to make it better for them. On this occasion, Google has announced 5 new features that aim to make society an even more accessible & inclusive place for everyone.

1. Wheelchair-accessible places for everyone on Google Maps

With this feature, Google will make its ‘wheelchair accessibility icon’ more prominent and visible by default. This will be achieved by collaborating with business owners, local guides, and the Maps community across the globe. Since 2020, this feature allows people to opt-in to the Accessible Places feature in Maps to more easily identify when a place has a wheelchair-accessible entrance, indicated by the wheelchair icon. This icon is being made more prominent now as everyone will be able to see it on Maps. This will help you know before you go if there is a step-free entrance for a wheelchair, stroller, or lugging suitcase. Information about wheelchair-accessible restrooms and parking etc will also be available.

Google claims to provide wheelchair accessibility information for more than 40 million businesses around the world. If you notice a place you have visited is missing accessibility information, you can contribute by scrolling to the “About” tab and selecting “Edit features” on Android or “Update this place” on iOS.

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2. Live Caption for more people

This feature allows one to use AI to get real-time captions for anything with sound on your Android device and across your phone and desktop using Chrome and Google Meet. There will be a new Caption box to optimize the live caption experience on Android tablets. Live captions will allow you to type back responses during calls and read aloud responses to the other caller. There will be support for French, Italian, and German on Pixel 4 and 5 for additional Android devices like some Samsung Galaxy phones.

3. New Image Q&A Mode

There is a new Image Question and Answer within Google Lookout. It was introduced in 2019 to help visually impaired people do tasks with ease and now it is being made better.

Now with this Image Q&A feature, Google will combine AI and DeepMind to take Lookout to the next level. The feature will provide descriptions for images irrespective of whether they have alt texts and captions or not. You can also make queries about the image by typing or voice. This is being tested with a limited number of people from the Royal National Institute of Blind People for now and Google aims to take it public by the end of the year.

4. Better Accessibility on Chrome Browser

Google Chrome browser will now detect typos in the URLs that will be entered in the address bar. It will also suggest websites based on the corrections. This will help people with dyslexia, language learners, and anyone who makes lots of typos while typing. This will make it easy to get to previously visited websites despite spelling errors.

The feature is currently available on Chrome desktop and will come to mobile browsers in the coming months.

Chrome has also added a new taskbar that makes it easier for users to manage and organize tabs. Users will now see a Tab Grid with new features like tab groups, bulk tab actions, and reordering, which will make the experience even better.

5. New accessibility features for Wear OS 4

At the I/O 2023 last week, Google highlighted how it is coming up with major updates for its Wear OS 4. Now those updates are being told about. Recently, Google rolled out 2 new sound and display modes to make watch customization better. Later in 2023, Google will come up with Wear OS 4 with a new text-to-speech experience that will be faster and more reliable. Google aims to bring technology to everyone with this feature.

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Shivangi AgarwalShivangi Agarwal
Shivangi is an honours graduate in English from Delhi University with a passion for reading and writing. Always keen to know more about the latest gadgets, when she is not reading about tech, she loves listening to Hindi music and grooving to the latest Hindi beats.

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