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Google Apps Don't Help Blind Students

google appsThe National Federation of the Blind has asked the Justice Department to investigate several universities' implementation of Google e-mail, documents and calendar services, saying that the apps' inability to link up with text-to-speech programs puts the schools in violation of the Americans with Disabilities act.

The complaint focuses on two schools -- NYU and Northwestern -- but, given the rapid adoption by universities of Google's free suite of tools, the implications are broad.

NFB president Marc Mauer wrote out in a statement released yesterday: "Given the many accessible options available, there is no good reason that these universities should choose a suite of applications, including critical e-mail services, that is inaccessible to blind students."

A scramble for the newest and best technology has put schools in this position repeatedly, the NFB's Chris Danielso told Fast Company.
We have grown increasingly concerned with the rapid adoption of various technologies by educational institutions in the past few years. There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, from inaccessible e-books and e-book readers to course management systems to products like Google Apps.... With respect to Google, we have been advocating for better accessibility for some time now but results have so far been unsatisfactory. Meanwhile, universities have continued to adopt Google's technology even though the accessibility issues are obvious -- at least if an institution bothers to investigate the matter, which too many do not do.

Tags: apps, blind, education, google, Google Apps, GoogleApps, National Federation for the Blind, NationalFederationForTheBlind, newsmain, NorthwesternUniversity, nyu, top