What is Accessibility at Google?

What is Accessibility at Google?


FEMALE ANNOUNCER: Coming
up on Double Tap TV. STEVEN SCOTT: We
answer the question, what does accessibility
mean at Google? Steven Scott sits down with
the man in charge to find out. FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
The latest tech– AMAZON ALEXA: I’m Alexa. I can answer your questions. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: –interviews– MAN 1: There will be several
dozen shows trickling in over the months. FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
–accessibility. MAN 2: We’re actually
running a pilot scheme at [? cnib ?] at the moment. FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
This is Double Tap TV. MARC AFLALO: Welcome to
another exciting edition of Double Tap TV. I am mark Aflalo
with Steven Scott. Thank you guys for being here. We’ve got an awesome episode
lined up for you guys. We’re going to be talking
all about accessibility with one of the biggest
tech companies in the world. But before we get to that,
I want to remind you. If you want to send us
an email, please do that, [email protected] We love getting your feedback. We love getting
your opinions and we love talking to you guys. So if you want to do that on
Twitter, it’s @DoubleTapCanada. And use that hashtag,
#AskDoubleTap, so we get to those
questions on a future show. So Steven, what is
accessibility when you put it in the
terms of a large tech giant the capacity of Google? When we look at different
companies around the world, you’d think that every single
company should be an evangelist about accessibility. But then you look at
these big giant companies like Google, like
Apple, like Microsoft, and they seem to be
taking a major stance when it comes to talking about,
or at least starting the conversation,
about accessibility. But shouldn’t it start
absolutely everywhere? STEVEN SCOTT: Yeah. You’d think so,
wouldn’t you, Marc? But the reality is that’s
not really the case. We see these huge companies. It’s almost the wrong
way around really, huge companies, investing
time and effort and energy into making their
products accessible, making their work
environments accessible, all of those things. Yet when we were at CES, we
were talking to companies and asking the questions
about accessibility. And we’re talking small startups
to medium sized companies, and they didn’t really have
an answer about accessibility. They knew roughly what it was. They knew generally
it was a good idea, but they didn’t really get into
any great discussion or ability to tell us what
they were planning to do with their product. So despite Apple and Samsung
and Amazon and Google all putting huge
amounts of effort in, the smaller companies, the
medium sized companies, just aren’t there yet. MARC AFLALO: Steven, do you
think these companies are doing this because they know that
they have to lead by example and get those smaller companies
to get on board with everything that’s going on? Or is is it because of
the sheer size and span? I mean, you look at a company
like Microsoft and Samsung and Apple and Google, I mean,
they span across the globe. They’ve got offices
absolutely everywhere, so they employ people of
all shapes and sizes, people with disabilities, people
without disabilities. Is it because of the
culture at the companies, or do they just feel that if
they share the proper methods and the proper message that
other companies will indeed follow their lead? STEVEN SCOTT: Well, I
think there’s probably some truth to that, but
I think it’s also because of legislation, frankly. You know, a lot
of these companies are based in the United
States, and these companies have a legal obligation to
make their products accessible. So arguably, it’s
legislation that’s driving this more than
the, it’s good to do or it’s a nice thing
to do, approach. Every company should
be doing this, right? And when you build a
product, if you build an app, if you build a device that has
got physical buttons on it, you need to make sure that
every step of that process is something which
can be achieved by anybody, irrespective
of whether you’re blind or your deaf or you have
issues with motor skills or motorbility issues. Whatever it might be, you’ve
got to think about this. You’ve got to make your
product accessible. and that’s something that,
we’re going to hear today, Google, one of the big
companies, has done. MARC AFLALO: Steven, when we
sat down with Ricardo Wagner over at Microsoft, or when we
talk about companies like Apple at WWDC, these companies
build in the tools that consumers
need and developers need to make their apps
and make their software, make their websites
accessible already. And I’m sure we’re going to
be having this conversation 10 years down the road, but should
that not be the norm now? With all these tools that are
in place for these people, for anybody to build
accessible websites and to build accessible apps,
should it not just be the norm? Why are we having
this conversation now? STEVEN SCOTT: Yeah. It should, but
unfortunately when it comes to disabled
people, we’re kind of at the back of the queue mark. We’re not in the
national conversation. You think about how
many news stories feature disabled people. How many times do you
see a disabled actor on screen playing the part of– not somebody who’s disabled,
but someone who perhaps is a serial killer in a drama. You don’t see those things. The conversation of
disability is still very much behind the times. And, of course,
that’s the reason why it’s not in our psyche. We hear so much about race. We hear so much about gender. We hear so much about issues
relating to sexuality, but we never hear
about disability. And unfortunately,
that’s just the reality. But the weird thing
is that we then have all these big
companies doing great work. The big four companies are
doing huge amounts of work, which is brilliant for us. And actually for a lot of– especially blind people, Marc. I’ve got to say. I think blind people have–
it’s a good time to be blind, and I don’t say that flippantly. But it is, because the
technology has made it possible for us to do so much more. Things I could never have done
10 years ago, I can do today. I mean, the idea of
picking up my smartphone, which is essentially
just a sheet of glass, and being able to bank,
being able to go online, buy products,
search the internet, just make a phone call,
send a text, go on Facebook, go on What’sApp, do all these
things is all possible thanks to this technology and
thanks to these companies. So happy to praise them. Of course we’ll criticize
them from time to time. That’s OK, too. But we’re really pleased
that finally our voices have been listened to by someone, and
hopefully that will encourage the others to play their part. MARC AFLALO: We’ve talked about
accessibility at Microsoft, obviously, with that
interview with Ricardo Wagner. If you want to go to AMI.ca
you can see that interview that we did. We’ve talked about accessibility
at Apple when it comes to WWDC. We talk about accessibility
at a lot of major companies, so it makes sense
that today we’re going to focus on
what is accessibility and what is the accessibility
culture at a company the size of Google? Now Steven, you
had the opportunity to sit down with the head
of accessibility at Google. His name is Christopher Patnoe. And that really
interesting interview is coming up on this week’s
edition of Double Tap TV. So here’s what
we’re going to do. We’re going to
take a quick break. But before we do that,
I’m going to remind you that if you guys
want to get involved, if you’ve got questions,
if you’ve got opinions, please email [email protected] We get back to every single
email that you guys send. On Twitter if you
want to get in touch, we have @DoubleTapCanada. Don’t forget to use the
hashtag #AskDoubleTap, and we’ll get back
to you there as well. We really encourage you to send
us any kind of communication so that we can get
your kind of feedback on exactly what we do
here on Double Tap TV. So we take a quick break. We come back and we join
Steven Scott in conversation with the head of accessibility
at Google, Christopher Patnoe. This is Double Tap TV. We’re back in just a moment. FEMALE ANNOUNCER: For more
great Double Tap TV content, visit ami.ca/doubletap. This is Double Tap TV. MARC AFLALO: We are
back on Double Tap TV. I am Marc Aflalo,
and Steven Scott is standing by with our
guest for this week’s show. Before we get to that,
though, I want to remind you [email protected] is
our email address. Please use it if you want
to share your opinions or if you want to
get in touch with us. On Twitter it’s
@DoubleTapCanada and don’t forget to use the
hashtag #AskDoubleTap. So the question we ask
ourselves this week is, what is accessibility
like and the culture like at accessibility at one
of the biggest technology companies in the world? Well, when Steven
was at TechShare Pro, it was hosted at Google’s
European headquarters. And while everybody was
wining and dining behind them, he had the opportunity
to sit down with their head of
accessibility, Christopher Patnoe, at Google’s HQ. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: My
name is Christopher Patnoe. I’m head of accessibility
programs at Google. STEVEN SCOTT: It is great
to have you here, Chris. And– CHRISTOPHER PATNOE:
Good to be here. STEVEN SCOTT: –really,
really excited to talk to you about what
is available from Google in terms of accessibility. This show is aimed
at people who are looking to get into the world
of accessible tech in some form. Maybe someone who’s
recently lost their site or is going through the
process, or perhaps maybe changing technologies. And I just want people to
know what Google has on offer, so tell me about
accessibility from Google. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE:
Accessibility is one of our core values. It’s even a part of
our mission statement. Our mission statement is to
make the world’s information universally
accessible and useful. And to that end, we take this
accessibility part really seriously. So if you look at our Android
platform, for example, we have Talk Back. It’s our version
of a screen reader, and we’ve invested heavily in it
over the past couple of years. And we’re really proud
to where it’s come. We also have support for
Braille using Braille Back. But we also have magnifiers. We have Select-to-Speak so you
can select a section of text. It can be read to you. We have colour blind modes. We have black and white mode. Depending on your needs,
we have a plethora of tools that will
allow you to customize it to meet your expectations. STEVEN SCOTT: OK. So you’ve got so many options
available, which is fantastic. And you’ve built all of
this into the core product. So we’re talking here
off the shelf products. These aren’t apps that you
add in later or anything you need to bolt onto a device. It’s all built in. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE:
Well, with Android, because we have so many
different manufacturers who make devices, there was a
little bit of hunt and grab. So for example, Samsung has
their own based off of the work that we do. But anyone on an
Android device can download the accessibility
suites and install it. STEVEN SCOTT: Right. So yeah. There are certain
developers now, as you say, certain companies
that are doing their own thing. But if you bought, for
example, a Google Pixel phone– CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: All there. STEVEN SCOTT: –it’s all there. And that’s what they call stock
Android essentially, isn’t it? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Yeah. STEVEN SCOTT: That’s raw,
Android raw, if you like. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Pure. STEVEN SCOTT: Pure. [laughing] That’s probably nicer than raw. Yeah. But yeah, pure Android. And that’s actually
one thing we talk about on the show
a lot is when it comes to buying an Android
device what the best options might be. And we often recommend
that to people. We say go for pure Android
because then you get exactly what you’re– you’re getting all
the latest updates– CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Yeah. STEVEN SCOTT: –and all of that. And that’s another
point, isn’t it? That these devices
are regularly updated. So even though you may go
out and buy a new phone, you don’t necessarily have
to buy next year’s new phone. It’d be great if
they did, I’m sure, but the point is
they don’t have to. Because these
phones are regularly updated and the accessibility
is updated along with it. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Multiple
times a year we do updates to our accessibility suite. STEVEN SCOTT: Can we talk about
computers, because Chromebooks are fascinating to me. I think they’re great
little machines. And what is great about them
is for education purposes, they’re wonderful. But for anyone who-and
let’s be honest, most of us nowadays spend most
of our time online, on websites, not necessarily
using apps as much, perhaps, as you used to because a lot
of the services like Microsoft Office are available online. You can use them that way. So the need to have a
device with all the power to run photo applications
or video applications might not be necessary for you. So a Chromebook
offers the opportunity to get online at a decent
price, but also giving you accessibility. Tell us about those. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Well,
to answer your first– to key off of something
you said a moment ago. The Chromebook is actually
much more functional than it has been, because
we’ve added the ability to run Android apps
on Chromebooks. So you can run an
Android app in Chromebook even with accessibility mode. So in those situations
where you needed to have a native application,
an application that’s not web-based, you can even
use Chrome for that as well. This is separate
from accessibility, but I think it’s
important for people to realize that it’s
more functional than just a glorified web browser. STEVEN SCOTT: Yeah. Yeah. It’s not just a web browser. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Yeah. STEVEN SCOTT: You can
you can run apps on it as well so it has got
those functions to it. And, again, that’s accessible. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Yes. STEVEN SCOTT: The screen reader
that’s inside a Chromebook, how does that work? Is that different
to what you would get on, say, a Pixel phone? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: It is. It’s actually something
we’ve spent a lot of time over the past year as well. You can see the pattern here. STEVEN SCOTT: Yeah. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE:
Google’s really been making
accessibility a priority. The Chromebook’s screen reader,
built into any Chrome OS device, has been
rewritten recently and it is far much
more powerful. It’s far more usable. And if you’ve ever
tried chrome in the past and you didn’t like it,
you should try it again. The water’s fine. We’ve really made some
significant improvements in it. We also have the
Select-to-Speak, and we have a docked
magnifier that goes up to 20x. We’ve really been
thoughtful in terms of the needs of the
users, and we’ve added a bunch of great and
exciting technologies into it. And it’s very easy to
access these things. There’s a little accessibility
icon in the tray. You can go there and enable
all the things that you want. STEVEN SCOTT: OK. So you’ve got phones. You’ve got computers. But, of course, another
area now which is huge is smart speakers. And, of course, the Nest
Home is the new name for the Google Home and the Mini
and the Max and all of that. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: And the Hub. STEVEN SCOTT: And
the Hub as well. So let’s talk about those
and how you’ve designed them. What makes that stand out next
to, say, an Amazon Echo device, which, of course, I guess
is your closest competitor. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: I don’t mean
to knock our friends at Amazon, but I think that– no, I really don’t. I think what really stands
out for us is the ability to recognize both
the voice and come up with really thoughtful answers. The function-sort of
the general functionality of play music, turn on my
lights, take the dog out. Everyone has these
same kind of skills. But I think that the
quality of the responses that we give and our ability to
recognize multiple languages, accents, I think that’s
what really brings it out is our ability to
understand what people want and give them what
they need in time. STEVEN SCOTT: But
that represents a new way of
computing, doesn’t it? Where you can
interact with a device without the need for sight. Which is very interesting to
a blind audience, of course, because you’re in a position
now where you can get answers to questions whereas before
you would have to sit down and, like most of
would do, Google it. But that is the verb
everyone uses, isn’t it? But that’s what you’d do. You would go onto a
computer or onto your phone, and you would Google
for an answer. Whereas now you just ask the
air and you get a response back. How-I mean, and
this is maybe looking a bit to the future
with this one, but I wonder for an
audience who is new to this, they might be wondering, is
this the way computing is going? Do you see that that is the way
we will interact with computers more and more down the line? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: I think if
you’re able to hear and speak, I think the answer is yes. It is more socially acceptable
to talk to your computers. And the smarter they get, the
more personalized they get. So I think it’s a very native
intuitive way to interact. One of the technologies
that we have is a voice print where we
could actually have multiple people in
the same household and it would
recognize the voices and provide answers
based off who they are. You could ask about
what’s my schedule, and it’ll tell you that
just based off understanding the sound of your voice. And it can discern
between different people. So the more advanced
the technology becomes, the more personalized
it could become. And having something as small
as the the Nest Home Mini, it’s an inexpensive
way to get in. It’s a very useful thing. The music sounds good. But talking to your device
is what people are used to, or getting more used to it. Because a couple of
years ago, people were uncomfortable
talking out loud, talking into their
phones, talking into the– But it’s getting more natural. And I think you’ll see more
products that will just be this ambient space that you– like the Star Trek of old. Computer, where’s Uhura? STEVEN SCOTT: That
is Steven Scott in conversation with
Christopher Patnoe, the head of accessibility at Google. What a rare
opportunity to sit down with a person of
Christopher’s calibre. We’re going to continue that
conversation in a moment after I’ll remind you how
to get in touch with us. It’s [email protected] on email
and, of course, on Twitter, @DoubleTapCanada with the
hashtag #AskDoubleTap. When we come back
on Double Tap TV, we continue the
conversation Steven Scott is having with
Christopher Patnoe, the head of
accessibility at Google. Stick around. FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
Love Double Tap TV? Listen to AMI audio for Double
Tap Canada every Thursday at 8:00 PM Eastern
for news and review– This is Double Tap TV. MARC AFLALO: Welcome
back to Double Tap TV. He is Steven Scott. I am Marc Aflalo. And you guys are always invited
to join the conversation. [email protected] is
the email address. On Twitter we are
@DoubleTapCanada. And use the hashtag
#AskDoubleTap so we can get to your
questions on future shows. So Steven Scott
is in conversation with the head of accessibility
at Google, Christopher Patnoe. We continue with
that conversation right now on Double Tap TV. STEVEN SCOTT: The technology
is moving on a pace, of course. And keeping up is the
challenge for a lot of people. How do you support customers
who are new to your products? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Google
has a disability support team. We launched it just
recently here in Europe. Anyone today can reach out for–
with chat support, with email support, or Be My Eyes
support, which is actually one of our stronger channels. And by the end of
the year, we hope to have phone support as well. STEVEN SCOTT: It seems
to me that Google has brought accessibility
into its culture, which is a big thing. It sounds as if it’s recent,
but the way you’re talking but actually it’s probably
been around for a while but maybe in a smaller team. Whereas now it’s
much bigger, it’s much more widely discussed. What is that? Is it that Google as
a company recognizes the value of disabled
people more now than ever? And if it’s that, then why? Or is it something else? Why is this sudden–
well, not sudden change, but why has this happened? Why is this brought forward? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE:
Google’s been involved with accessibility
for many, many years, but within the last
10 years you’ve seen more of a shift
in terms of making our products more accessible. And I’d say even the
past two or three years there’s this real
significant increase in awareness and
dedication towards it. I mean, here at the
conference, we’re hearing all these
companies talking about how important
it is and how we’re feeling a change in culture. So I think what’s
happening inside Google is sort of a reflection
of the zeitgeist change. It’s happening in
culture at large. But in the past
two or three years, we’ve really seen an increase
of focus in our product areas. Or the businesses, they’re
realizing that this is a really exciting audience. This is something-it’s
also the right thing to do. It’s a technological advantage. It’s a business advantage
if you have a product that is more accessible than others. All the dots are
being connected, and it is a much easier
argument now than it was a couple of years ago. And then you have things
like Live Transcribe. It’s not necessarily great for
a blind or low vision audience. But the ability
and recognition we got by having your phone be able
to transcribe everything that’s being said around you provides
a momentum, an excitement. And the more excitement
there is, the more people willing to work in this space. STEVEN SCOTT: And that’s
important to see, though, because you don’t just create
accessibility for blind people. It’s pan-disability isn’t it? CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Correct. STEVEN SCOTT: So you have
lots of different options for people. Obviously, our audience
are primarily blind or partially sighted. But if you have got a hearing
problem or you have motor issues or whatever
it might be, you have got support
in Google products. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: Absolutely. We have a switch
access for people with mobility impairments. You can navigate your device
with multiple switches– single to multiple switches. We have voice access so if
you can’t even move your hands or do it in a convenient way,
you can talk to your device and work with it and
have it react to you. On the-so the deaf/hard
of hearing side, we have a thing called
Sound Amplifier which will maximize the
different areas of their different regions of
hearing so you can hear better in certain situations. Or Live Transcribe, which
I mentioned a moment ago, which transcribes everything
that’s being said. In our most version recent
version of Android, Android 10, it has something
called Live Captions, which is an on-device so it’s
not being sent up to the cloud. And it’ll create a
captain of any video on your device, even one
that you film yourself. Or you go to– onto Instagram and they
don’t have captions, we’ll provide the
captions for you. So we’re leading
into our expertise. In this case, of
machine learning and speech because we have the
Google Assistant and translate. We have these
skills and realize, here’s an excellent opportunity
where we can do some real good. STEVEN SCOTT: Chris, thank
you so much for coming on. CHRISTOPHER PATNOE: My pleasure. Thank you. MARC AFLALO: You know what? It’s not often that
you get to sit down with someone of the
calibre of Christopher Patnoe, the head of
accessibility at Google, one of the biggest tech
companies in the world. So a special thanks to
Google for facilitating that, and a special thanks to
Christopher Patnoe for joining us and sitting down and
having that great conversation with Steven Scott. If you guys have an opinion, by
all means, please let us know. The email address
is [email protected] On Twitter we are
@DoubleTapCanada. And use the hashtag
#AskDoubleTap so we can get to those
questions on a future show. Again, thanks to
Christopher Patnoe. And on behalf of Steven
Scott, I am Marc Aflalo. Thank you guys for being here. We will see you next week
here on Double Tap TV. FEMALE ANNOUNCER:
Love Double Tap TV? Listen to AMI Audio for Double
Tap Canada every Thursday at 8:00 PM Eastern for news
and reviews on everything tech. MALE ANNOUNCER: Hosted by
Marco Aflalo and Steven Scott. Editing, Marc Aflalo
and Will Attar. Integrated Described Video
Specialist, Ron Rickford. Coordinating Producer,
Jennifer Johnson. Director of
Production, Caren Nye. Director of Programming,
Bryan Perdue. VP, Programming and
Production, John Melville. President and CEO,
David Errington. Copyright 2020
Accessible Media, Inc.

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