Can You Really Have an Accessible Google Map?

Well, yes – according to Greg Kraus of LecShare Inc, in a presentation entitled “Creating Accessible Google Maps“, part of EASI’s (Equal Access to Software and Information) webinar series.  Kraus has developed some JavaScript code that calls the Google Maps API (Application Programming Interface), which he has generously made freely available to the accessiblity community.

This allows a Google map to be accessible in two ways:

1. Navigation - By creating form buttons and tying some JavaScript commands to them a Google map’s navigation can be made keyboard (and screen reader) accessible.  It allows the user to Zoom In/Out, have Normal/Satellite/Hybrid views and pan North, South, East and West.  Details on how to accomplish this are available from Making Google Maps Accessible (Part 1 – Controls).  (However, the actual maps themselves will not be screen reader accessible – only the controls).

2. Providing Accessible Data – Data, such as name, website, weather, etc, can be entered into an accessible form, which is stored in a database.  The data is then retrieved from the database via the scripting mechanism described in Making Google Maps Accessible (Part 2 – Accessible Data), and displayed both on the map on custom made pushpins and as an ordered list, which is accessible to screen readers.  Because the pushpins can be custom made, the font associated with the pushpins can also be made larger.

Although Google Maps only understand latitude and longitude co-ordinates, rather than actual addresses, Google does provide a publicly available API which will do the translation for you.  However, it should be noted that any information that shows terrain or streets will be inaccessible to screen reader users.  Nevertheless, descriptions could be added to the pushpins to describe their relationship with other features.

It was quite exciting to see attempts to make something as inaccessible as a map accessible and it’s great to see that Greg Klaus has made his work freely available to us all.

2 thoughts on “Can You Really Have an Accessible Google Map?

  1. I couldn’t understand some parts of this article Can You Really Have an Accessible Google Map?, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

  2. Pingback: Google Maps, Buscador de Numeros Celulares

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