Accessibility of Google Search Result Details Buttons

Let’s face it: when it comes to search engines, Google is the standard against which all others are measured. But is Google perfect? Is there no room for improvement?

If you’re like me, and you use a screen reader such as JAWS or NVDA, I’m guessing the answer to both questions is a resounding “No!”

Result Details

Have you ever noticed the Result details button sandwiched between the title and URL of every search result on Google? Ever wondered what it does?

When you press the button, a thumbnail image of the search result’s web page is revealed, as well as a link to similar pages. But most useful of all is a link to Google’s cached version of the search result. A real life-saver if the web page you want has recently become unavailable, or has changed beyond recognition, or has been accidentally erased, etc.

Ever tried to activate the Result details button using a screen reader? I did. Repeatedly. Nothing seemed to happen. To cut a long story short, something was happening. But neither JAWS nor Google bothered to let me know about it. 😡

Anyways, here’s how it works:

  1. Go up and down through the list of Search Results by pressing <3> and <Shift+3> until you find a search result that piques your interest.

  2. Press <ArrowDown> or <B> to move to the Results details button and press <Enter>.

  3. As soon as you do this, the result details silently pop into existence at the bottom of the page. To read them, press <Ins+Alt+End> to jump to the last heading on the page.

  4. Press the Hide details button (above the heading) or press <Esc> to make the result details disappear again.

It couldn’t get much more straightforward than that, or so I thought. As it turns out, there’s an even simpler way of accessing the Cached and Similar links…

Search Operators

After all that, I learnt the same thing can be achieved by using two of Google’s many search operators.

For instance, if you want to find a list of sites similar to www.example.com, simply proceed to your nearest Google search box and type in:

related:www.example.com

Even better, if you need to peruse Google’s copy of www.example.com, just type in:

cache:www.example.com

And Google will take you there. Simple as that!

Related Links

To Be Continued

Upcoming posts in this series will explore such topics as constructing your own search query URLs, how to navigate the Google Groups interface, and a few tips on Gmail.

In the meantime, please feel free to share your thoughts and experiences on Google’s accessibility by leaving a comment below.

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