Chrome Extension Makes Google+ Hangouts Accessible To The Blind

Accessible Hangouts makes Google+ Hangouts a lot more accessible for the blind by using text-to-speech not only to read aloud the names and messages that are being typed into the chat box, but also to let blind users know when different people are entering and exiting the hangout, making the experience a lot less mysterious.

While chatting with a blind war veteran in a Google+ Hangout, software engineer Mohamed Mansour gained some insight into how difficult the service is to use for the visually impaired.  Mansour says, “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.”  To this end, he created a new Chrome extension, Accessible Hangouts.

Accessible Hangouts makes Google+ Hangouts a lot more accessible for the blind by using text-to-speech not only to read aloud the names and messages that are being typed into the chat box, but also to let blind users know when different people are entering and exiting the hangout, making he experience a lot less mysterious.

Accessible Hangouts is currently a third-party extension but Mansour hopes that “Google integrates this into Hangouts, so that the blind could enjoy hangouts ad much as we do.”  Janko Roettgers of GigaOM’s NewTeeVee recalls that back in July, Google announced that they’d be working to make Hangouts more accessible to the hearing impaired.  This seems to be a natural next step.

Check out the demo video below to see Accessible Hangouts in action and let us know what you think.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.