Zooming in on Google Reader

TV Raman and Charles Chen over at Google have just released their next installment in accessibility enabled Google applications: a zoom feature in Google Reader built using the AxsJax framework (AxsJax = Access-Enabling AJAX).

Using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) they have built in the ability to increase and decrease the text size of stories in your reader. As before you can tab through stories using “J” to move to the next story and “K” to go to the previous story but with the added bonus of hitting “=” to enlarge or “-” to decrease text in the selected story.

The functionality is different from screen magnification software or scaling text in the browser as it only focuses on the content you want therefore preserving precious screen real estate. While this is great for users with low vision I think it’s a feature that comes into it’s own for those of us who struggle reading on screen for any number of other reasons such as dyslexia, cognitive impairments, the ageing and people who are just starting to lose sight but may not be at the stage where they screen magnification software. I personally like to have as much text on screen as possible so the option to scale down is equally welcome.

This is a great example of how a Rich Internet Application can hold up accessibility rather than undermine it. For more information and advice on Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA) check put the Web Accessibility Initiative ‘s ARIA suite.