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Google Announces “Day-in-the-Life” Study Following Blind Individuals

Google Logo, written in Braille

We’ve had a terrific summer getting to know the folks at Google who think deeply about accessibility on a daily basis, and as a product of that relationship we’ve been able to provide some great new opportunities for our students and community members, both in receiving training and providing feedback.

Now, on the heels of our highly successful July workshop, we’re proud to announce a new opportunity: Google would like to follow you around for a day — quite literally.

The announcement, direct from Mountain View:

At Google, our Android and Accessibility teams are studying current and future technologies that help people with visual disabilities. We are seeking to understand what works and doesn’t work with smartphones and other devices that help. We would like to deeply understand the emotions, hurdles, achievements and surprises that are involved in navigating the world with visual impairment. Familiarity with the Android operating system is not a prerequisite to contribute to this research.

The research will take place between Monday August 17th and Saturday August 22nd.

To participate in this research, there are 2 options: Full-day and partial-day. Descriptions are listed below.

Full day shadow:
– For this research project, one researcher would like to observe a typical day in your life, including one significant activity (like going to a museum or going grocery shopping). The researcher would meet you in the morning at your home, as early as you feel comfortable starting. She [these researchers happen to all be women] will generally sit quietly nearby as you go through your daily routine. She’ll ask questions, take notes and take photographs occasionally. She will accompany you on any events you have planned for the day.

In addition to the observation, we would like to also conduct an interview you with you and some friends, on the following day. You would invite one to two friends to meet together at a convenient time and place (e.g., your home, Google office), to chat together about your experiences with different tools and different situations.

For your time, you would be compensated $700. Your friends would each receive $150 for attending the 2-hour buddy session.

Partial-day shadow:
– “For this research project, two researchers would like to follow you through a significant activity in your daily life (like going to a museum, having lunch with friends, or going grocery shopping, etc.). The researchers would meet you at your home,and travel with you to the activity, to get to know you and also observe transportation experiences. They will ask questions, take notes and take photographs occasionally, but try not to be too disruptive to what you need to accomplish. You can choose which activity you would take them along to. They expect to spend about 3 hours with you. For your time, you would be compensated $300 for your time.”

Note: The quotes and photographs that we collect during our research will be kept confidential to our company, and never be used publicly. We will use the stories and experiences that we gather to build develop new opportunities for technology to help people with visual disabilities.

If you are interested, please click here and complete the survey. If you have any further questions, please direct them to LightHouse’s deputy director, Scott Blanks at sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org.

Google is Coming Back to the LightHouse, and You’re Invited

google chromebook

A couple weeks ago, we wrote about how Google came to the LightHouse in May to run a series of usability studies. Today, we’re happy to announce that they’re returning again in July for an even more in-depth workshop.

On Tuesday, July 21st the LightHouse for the Blind is hosting an all-day training facilitated by professionals from Google. The day will focus on how to use Chrome OS, as well as Google Docs and Drive Product suite using assistive technology. The event begins at 9 am. Lunch will be provided, and we will wrap up the day with a happy hour from 5 to 6 pm.

When: Tuesday, July 21, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Happy hour from 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.
Where: LightHouse San Francisco Headquarters
Lunch will be provided

Chromebooks are highly secure, speedy, and affordable internet-based laptops. Google Drive, Docs, Sheets and Slides are powerful productivity tools for creating content, sharing content and collaborating with others. These products are increasingly adopted by educational and business organizations, and it’s important for blind and visually impaired users and instructors to be familiar with the accessibility features and functionality.

This workshop will include demonstrations by Google staff, hands-on exercises on the Chrome OS and Windows platforms, time allocated to giving product feedback, and more. Lunch will be provided, and we will wrap up the day with a happy hour.

Space is limited so register early to ensure a spot! To RSVP, contact LightHouse Deputy Director Scott Blanks: sblanks@lighthouse-sf.org, or 415-694-7371.

Why Google Comes to LightHouse for the Blind

braille_logo (3)

Here at the LightHouse, we visit a lot of tech companies to find out first hand what they’re up to, how their offices look and feel, and ultimately to foster an open, nuanced conversation about what they are working on.

Last week was a little different because, on the occasion of Global Accessibility Awareness Day, Google visited us instead. Ben Davison, a user experience researcher at Google, came to our office in San Francisco to chat with blind and low vision smartphone users about what works well for them and what could be improved when it comes to the Google product. This, we believe, underscores one of the most crucial take-home points of designing good, accessible tech — that is, just showing up and listening.

Ben’s work does not focus exclusively on accessibility but generally on improving the experience of technology for all users. On Thursday, he carried out what we hope will be the first of many usability studies with some of our current and former students, running them through everyday Google searches, then observing and recording to see where screen readers or magnifying software ran into trouble.

So what prompted this visit from our neighbor? The LightHouse has resources that Google wants to tap into: specifically a vast network of accessibility users, thinkers and innovators under one roof.

”Imagine you wanted to test your product with five people who use screen magnifiers,” says Ben. “In order to go about this, you would have to find your users in the area, build trust, collect five study agreements, work out transportation to the site, provide an accessible test site, and work out transportation back home. “

“The LightHouse has all of these on tap: a strong network, trust, a convenient location, and an accessible place. These kinds of partnerships are invaluable to a researcher like myself in understanding the needs of our users.”

Ben received his PhD from Georgia Tech with a focus on accessibility and spent time at the Center for the Visually Impaired in Atlanta. This experience has undoubtedly given him a special insight into the value of good accessibility for this community of avid technology users, and we’re glad to see that Google values this, too.

We look forward to the next time we can get together with Google, and more people like Ben from other tech companies, to share ideas and feedback on improving these valuable tools in a way that just works for everyone.

If you’re a technology developer, a visually impaired person, or just a conscientious user, please don’t hesitate to contact us about how you can benefit from our services.

Follow us on Twitter and read more at Google Accessibilitiy.