Accessible Search adds a small twist to the familiar Google search: In addition to finding the most relevant results as measured by Google's search algorithms, it further sorts results based on the simplicity of their page layouts. (Simplicity, of course, is subjective in this context.) When users search from the http://labs.google.com/accessible site, they'll receive results that are prioritized based on their usability.I just finished my Rutger's online MLIS Multimedia Design class in May, and granted, there was a lot of great stuff crammed into a really short time, but accessibility was not at all addressed. In fact, we asked our professor, early and often, about questions of accessibility. We wanted to learn it. But our professor, being pretty experiences in teaching the course, knew we didn't have the time. Having taken the course, I can respect that.
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--that is, pages with few visual distractions, and pages that are likely to render well with images turned off. Google Accessible Search is built on Google Co-op's technology, which improves search results based on specialized interests.
My problem remains, though. I have taken two technology-centric courses, both dealing mostly with webby stuff, and haven't learned anything about accessibility in either. No readings, no assignments, nothing. Meredith talks about many people getting through library school without any techy training, and I'm certainly grateful for what I've learned and know that I will continue to learn and will eventually teach myself what I need to know about accessibility. Eventually. When I'm not in school and have the time. In the meantime, I'm creating web content that isn't accessible, and that bothers me.
Shouldn't we be more in tune to this stuff than anyone?