The problem with gBear

For me, the transition from Barnard webmail to gBear went pretty well. People complain about it sometimes but it’s a good email platform and, you know, if anyone would explain to me what “Google groups” means, I’m sure that’s really helpful. But this article points out a real problem with the new system: it is not accessible for blind students. The article points out many of the problems; here are a few of them:

For those with sight problems, screen readers are invaluable. Gmail has an “HTML view” option that offers compatibility with screen readers; however, the primary language must be English and the view has limited features compared to standard Gmail. Missing features include such items as spell check, rich formatting, and management of filters and contacts.

For Google Calendar, the screen reader passes over appointments, merely reading the hours and table counts of the calendar. For other programs like Google Groups and Chrome, the screen reader can’t read updated posts, certain buttons, and headers. Such limits make it difficult for vision-impaired students to collaborate and communicate with their peers.

The National Federation of the Blind has also posted several videos on its website that demonstrate accessibility issues with Google.

So I get it; this saves money, is more efficient, our corporate overlords are beaming down on us. But it’s not okay, right? Come on!

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