Google welcomes AbilityNet Tech Volunteers to its research lab

Exterior of Google's Accessibility Discovery Centre in London - glass building with colourful lego large pictures on displayA group of AbilityNet Tech Volunteers were warmly welcomed to the Google Accessibility Discovery Centre in London earlier this month, for an exclusive tour led by Google's Senior UX Engineer, Gurmukh Panesar.

The volunteers had the opportunity to explore the centre, which opened in 2022, and engage in thought-provoking discussions and questions surrounding accessibility. The centre assists Google's engineers and researchers to consider the technology access barriers faced by disabled individuals.

"It was an insightful and inspiring experience for all involved, fostering a greater understanding and appreciation for the importance of inclusive design. Thank you to Google for this enriching opportunity," says AbilityNet's Chris Grant, who attended the session.

Amazing insight into the Google world of accessibility

AbilityNet's volunteers were able to learn more about some of the assistive technologies that can help those they are supporting in their communities.

Braille lego board"I had the opportunity to explore a space dedicated to collaborating, co-designing, and learning with the accessibility and disability communities.

The centre showcased remarkable technologies tailored to various disability types, including visual, hearing, mental, and physical impairments, highlighting Google's commitment to addressing the specific needs of different disability communities," says AbilityNet Tech Volunteer, Ahmad Aladawi.

Hearing and 'Dexterity and cognitive' lab desks with lots of digital devices on display on a desk"The tour was engaging and thought-provoking, emphasising the importance of inclusive technology and innovation in reshaping the landscape of accessibility.

"I was particularly impressed by the advancements in each area, ranging from screen readers and magnification features to smart lights and captioning, as well as cognitive assistance tools and personalised prompts.

"The visit reinforced the significance of leveraging technology to create a more equitable and accessible world for all, and I look forward to seeing similar centres in UK universities and institutions," continues Ahmad.

A trio of Google centres around the world

3 people in a room of arcade games 'ADC Arcade'“I was excited to have this opportunity as I have heard a lot about this place. It did not disappoint as each type of disability was covered. There were several apps that will prove to be useful. There was also a space for disabled people to try out and test Google’s technologies. I would recommend anyone to have a visit.  I understand this one of only three Google centres in the world - one in California, one in New York and this one." - Myles Pilling, AbilityNet volunteer.

"The visit to Google was a great tour. Not only did we get to network with fellow volunteer, iIt was an amazing insight into the Google world of accessibility. If you get the chance to see it I would recommend attending." - Leanne Newell, AbilityNet volunteer.

Photos courtesy of AbilityNet Tech Volunteer Mark Mugglestone.

Learn more about AbilityNet Tech Volunteers

Find out more about the work of AbilityNet Tech Volunteers in our film that provides an insight into their varied and rewarding roles. Meet Jo, Greg and Jordan:

Download the transcript of the video [Word doc].

Jordan Rosser, smiling outside a house, wearing AbilityNet lanyard"I've grown up with technology and sometimes you forget that there's people that haven't, especially the older generation. Something that might seem trivial to yourself can make a huge difference to somebody who's never used a computer. And it really does. You can see it in their eyes, when they've accomplished things themselves - that smile and that energy you get from them is really rewarding, and I absolutely love it." - Jordan Rosser, AbilityNet Tech Volunteer.

Become a volunteer with AbilityNet

Our volunteers make such a difference to the lives of disabled and older people in our communities. Can you join our community of 450+ amazing volunteers across the UK, and help support older people and disabled people with their technology? 

Volunteer with us 

If you work for an organisation that is interested in developing its volunteering programme, visit our Corporate Social Responsibility information to find out more and learn how to become a partner with AbilityNet.

By supporting AbilityNet, you can help ensure disabled people aren't excluded from the digital world. 

More resources on volunteering and Google