Tuesday, December 26, 2006
From time to time, our own T.V. Raman shares his tips on how to use Google from his perspective as a technologist who cannot see -- tips that sighted people, among others, may also find useful. - Ed.
Google Maps and its associated local search is a quick and easy means of locating businesses and obtaining directions. Most people who use it already seem to enjoy the graphical interface with its extremely reactive GUI. But when using spoken output, this visual richness can get in the way of quickly listening to the results of a maps query.
As an alternative, Google Maps also provides a simple to use a textual interface that serves up directions very efficiently when working with a screenreader or a Braille display. This alternative view into Google Maps is here, at the Textual Maps UI (http://maps.google.com/?output=html). It's extremely useful for blind and visually impaired users, as well as an effective solution for those times when you're at a non-graphical display and need to quickly look up a location.
Just type a simple English query of the form start address to end address and quickly get the information you're looking for. Though we added this option to enhance the accessibility of Google Maps for blind and low-vision users, perhaps others will find this alternative view a useful addition to their maps arsenal.