product & design

Accessibility Sessions at Google I/O 2017

Ataul is a Google Developer Expert for Android focusing on inclusive design for mobile platforms and loves facilitating the production of universally useable apps. Also, he watches a lot of movies.

There were three recorded accessibility sessions at Google I/O this year, with three additional "office hours" with Google's accessibility experts for those lucky enough to attend. Read on for a summary of this year's events.

What's New in Android Accessibility

First up was the staple "What's New in Android Accessibility", introduced by the product manager for accessibility, Patrick Clary. He was joined on stage by Maya Ben Ari (project manager on Android accessibility) and Victor Tsaran (technical program manager) as well as Astrid Weber (UX research lead) and Melissa Barnhart (UX researcher on Android).

Patrick did the typical introduction to accessibility in general and specifically on Android.

Victor showcased the new user-facing features from the accessibility team, including:

Maya talked about new APIs:

Finally Astrid and Melissa spoke about user testing (UX research methods) for accessibility:

Even though this was a high-level session, I was disappointed, frustrated but not altogether unsurprised at the lack of technical examples. When I downloaded the developer preview of O to try the new accessibility APIs, I opened a few tickets (unsure if there were bugs or if I was using the APIs incorrectly) but they were all closed.

I can't see the point in adding new APIs if there's no easy-to-follow documentation; there are people who are interested in developing for accessibility, and there are people who can use the limited documentation available, but the overlap of these two groups is very small.


Accessibility UX Insights: Designing for the Next Billion Users

Astrid from the initial session and Nithya Sambasivan (UX researcher) present the NBU (Next Billion Users) Accessibility Framework. This was pretty interesting, it felt like a TED talk.

If you're just after the actions though, you can skip forward to the summary.

Pragmatic Accessibility: A How-To Guide for Teams

This was my favourite session, with Rob Dodson presenting Accessibility for Teams. It's one of the best talks I've seen on accessibility (and in general).

One of the points Rob mentioned is something I cannot emphasise enough - just because something is accessible, it's not necessarily usable.

He suggests different responsibilities based on your role in the team:


And that's all the accessibility related news from Google I/O 2017, let me know what you think on Twitter.

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