Google Apps and Accessibility Guidelines

The University of Arkansas strives to ensure that software and services utilized by the university are fully accessible to students with disabilities, including visual impairments. With UARK Gmail, the official University of Arkansas student mailbox, students also have access to Google Apps, including Calendar, Drive and Hangouts. While access to Google Apps offers powerful sharing and collaboration tools, the accessibility of files created in Google Apps may vary as Google continues with development of these tools. This document discusses accessibility considerations with Google Apps and describes the ways in which you can convert Google Apps to a more accessible format when necessary.

Keep in mind, this document:

  • assumes the materials and resources in question are either widely distributed or being shared with someone with a known functional limitation that is directly impacted by the use of these resources.
  • pertains solely to accessibility in Google Apps provided through the University of Arkansas (Calendar, Drive and Hangouts). Other concerns that might be considered, such as security and privacy, are beyond the scope of this document.
  • does not cover the use of any non-UARK Google Apps.
  • may change, as Google frequently updates their applications with improvements and new features. If you find out-of-date information on this page, please contact webteam@uark.edu.

Drive

Google Drive (formerly Google Docs) is a suite of productivity applications for creating and sharing online documents, spreadsheets and presentations. As a general rule, files created in Drive, including those converted to PDF, are not fully accessible to individuals using assistive technology for vision impairment or other functional limitations.

Before sharing Google Drive content, IT Services recommends converting files to Microsoft Office formats (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc., which are generally accessible) using the Download Google Doc to Microsoft Office app. Files converted to Microsoft Office formats may still contain accessibility barriers. If files are not accessible, contact the individual who provided the original document.

Documents and Spreadsheets

Content from Google Drive documents can be copied and pasted into an accessible HTML editor like Dreamweaver or converted to Microsoft Word format using the Download Google Doc to Microsoft Office app. Images within a document must be included with descriptive alternative text, which can be created when images are placed in Dreamweaver or using Word's built-in compatibility checker.

Spreadsheets created in Google Drive can be converted to the Microsoft Excel format using the Download Google Doc to Microsoft Office app.

Presentations

When sharing presentation files electronically (as opposed to in a face-to-face classroom setting), IT Services recommends converting to the Microsoft PowerPoint format using the Download Google Doc to Microsoft Office app. Images within the presentation must include descriptive alternative text, which can be created after converting using PowerPoint's built-in compatibility checker.

UARK Gmail and Calendar

UARK Gmail and Google Calendar can be accessed through your web browser or a third-party email and/or calendar client.

Web-based UARK Gmail has some accessibility features in both the Standard View and the Basic HTML view, although neither view is fully accessible. Web-based Google Calendar has multiple views, but Agenda view is the only option that supports accessibility features.

IT Services recommends students requiring accessible email and calendar request an Exchange Online mailbox or use UARK Gmail and Google Calendar in a third-party application such as Microsoft Outlook. Instructions are available for setting up UARK Gmail in an application for Windows, Mac or a mobile device.

Resources and Policies

Providing ADA Accessibility to Web Pages

ADA Accessibility Requirements

Google's Accessibility Resources for Google Apps

ATHEN Report on the Accessibility of Google Docs

ATHEN Report on the Accessibility of GMail and Google Calendar

Updated 01/11/2017


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