Just because Hangouts in Google+ are an audio and visual experience doesn’t mean that it’s completely accessible to those with visual impairments. There are chatrooms on the side of a Hangout where people tend to type a bit of backchannel conversation as the main video conference goes on.
One developer picked up on that fact and decided to do something about it by creating a Google+ Chrome extension that uses text to speech technology to reads everything that appears in the chat box out loud.
So. Much. Tech.
Some of the biggest names in tech are coming to TNW Conference in Amsterdam this May.
Mohamed Mansour shared his thoughts on how Google+ Hangouts should be made more accessible with those who need a helping hand, or in this case a helping eye:
Today I was in a hangout, where I met a blind war veteran. It was really inspiring to see him use such technology. But it was really hard for him to use it since it wasn’t accessible friendly. I was writing on the chat on the left, and it was really difficult for him to read the text. I am really into Accessibility, and I worked on it a lot in Chromium in the past, and I really wanted to help him.
So I told Tim, “what if the chat spoke to you?” Tim said, “that would be awesome”. When I saw the big smile on his face, I had to do it! So I created this extension for Chrome!
In an inspiring example of developing for good, the extension is available for Chrome and here’s a video demo of it below:
The example shown in the video where there is now an audio announcement when someone joins the Google+ Hangout is fantastic, considering that someone who might not be able to see the text would never know otherwise.
We know that the Google+ team is taking a cautious approach to releasing a full API for its Google+ social tools, but this is a perfect example of what can be done with extra tools for developers. This is also a feature that the Google+ team should consider making an official part of the product.