Things that come around
Several years ago, I tried proposing to Google that they should incorporate accessibility analysis into their search rankings. Their (eventual) reply was, not interested.
I’ve just heard the BBC’s In Touch program, which deals with issues affecting blind and partially-sighted people. Today we had a lengthy interview, with a blind Indian engineer working at Google on exactly that problem. He explained that the accessibility-enhanced search will as first priority select the best/most relevant pages by google’s standard closely-guarded-secret algorithms, but then order those results to ensure that the highest-placed results are accessible.
He even gave some technical details of how the accessibility assessment works. The perennial subject of alt attributes was mentioned (without details on how they assess them), but more interestingly, he referred to well-structured pages, and clearly uses HTML heading markup as a criterion.
It’s all happening very quietly, but it’s gratifying to those of us who have been banging on about this for years. Of course, it would’ve been far better if they’d used Site Valet (customised as necessary to integrate with their systems) for this analysis.