Google Gives Online Class on Making Websites Accessible to the Blind

Google is offering a free online course from Sept. 17 to 30 to help Web developers make their sites more accessible to visually impaired users.


Google will offer a free online course Sept. 17 to 30 to teach Web developers and designers how they can make their Websites more accessible and friendly for blind and visually impaired users.

The course, "Introduction to Web Accessibility," will offer a host of practices and design elements that will allow sites to serve visually impaired users who wish to have better access to the online world, Eve Andersson, the manager of accessibility engineering at Google, wrote in a Sept. 9 post on the Google Developers Blog.

"You work hard to build clean, intuitive Websites," wrote Andersson. "Traffic is high and still climbing, and your Website provides a great user experience for all your users, right? Now close your eyes. Is your Website easily navigable? According to the World Health Organization, 285 million people are visually impaired. That’s more than the populations of England, Germany and Japan combined."

That's where the Web accessibility course comes in, she wrote. "As the Web has continued to evolve, Websites have become more interactive and complex, and this has led to a reduction in accessibility for some users. Fortunately, there are some simple techniques you can employ to make your Websites more accessible to blind and low-vision users and increase your potential audience. "Introduction to Web Accessibility" is Google’s online course that helps you do just that."

The two-week online course, which will include support from Google engineers, will teach developers "how to make easy accessibility updates, starting with your HTML structure, without breaking code or sacrificing a beautiful user experience," wrote Andersson. "You'll also learn tips and tricks to inspect the accessibility of your Websites using Google Chrome extensions."

The course is recommended for developers with basic familiarity with HTML, JavaScript and CSS, she wrote. "There's a lot to learn in the realm of Web accessibility, and a lot of work to be done to ensure users aren't excluded from being able to easily navigate the Web," wrote Andersson. "By introducing fundamental tips to improve Web usage for users with visual impairments, "Introduction to Web Accessibility" is a starting point to learn how to build accessibility features into your code."

Interested developers can register for the class online by providing their name, reason for wanting to take the class and information about the Websites that they own or administer. Participants can also enter the URLs of their Websites if they are interested in having Google staffers evaluate them for accessibility in their present states of development. Participants are also asked to answer several other questions to register for the course, including how visually impaired users would be able to interact with the developer's Websites at the present time.

Google often provides courses and education in various fields for developers.

In June, Google created a free online course, "Mapping with Google," to provide a self-paced online course for users and developers to improve their use of the new Google Maps, Maps Engine Lite and Google Earth. The participants were then eligible to complete a Google Maps or Google Earth project using the skills they learned in the course so they could earn a certificate that showed their accomplishments in the class using Maps. The course included a combination of video and text lessons, activities and projects.