Google Accessible Search in a pickle
Like many others I was very interested to see Google's foray into the accessibility arena this week in the shape of Google Accessible Search , "Accessible Web Search for the Visually Impaired". A nice idea, and great to see accessibility on their agenda, but from a few quick tests my confidence levels in its utility is a tad shaky.
Take Google Accessible Search, enter the same query, Pickled Eggs , and we're there again, only at number 44.
Now, I know that The Accidental Smallholder has its accessibility problems, but that recipe page is valid XHTML, has total separation of content from style, contains one image with appropriate alt text, and uses semantic markup. The top five accessible results are a mixture of table-based layout, tag soup, doctype-less frontpage monstrosities and pages from about.com, and I fail to see in what way they are more accessible than my pickled eggs recipe. Harrumph.
The Accessible Search FAQ makes all the right noises, with statements like:
In its current version, Google Accessible Search looks at a number of signals by examining the HTML markup found on a web page. It tends to favor pages that degrade gracefully --- pages with few visual distractions and pages that are likely to render well with images turned off.
...but it clearly needs some fine-tuning, otherwise how are the visually impaired ever going to enjoy my superior pickled eggs?