Google opens its first accessibility research and development centre in the UK

The tech giant said the centre would be used to develop new technology to help people with disabilities.

A sign for Google's Accessibility Discovery Centre, which has opened in London
A sign for Google's Accessibility Discovery Centre, which has opened in London

Google has opened its first research and development centre in the UK dedicated to creating technology to help people with disabilities.

The Accessibility Discovery Centre in London will not only be used for research and product development, Google said, but also has a space for learning, with interactive and learning zones also in place for those who visit.

The technology giant said the centre had been built in consultation with groups including the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), the Royal National Institute for Deaf People (RNID) and disability charity Everyone Can.

It is the company’s first Accessibility Discovery Centre outside of the US.

“When people have equitable access to information and opportunity, everyone wins – but we know people’s needs are constantly changing, throughout their lives or even their day,” Christopher Patnoe, from Google’s Accessibility and Disability Inclusion team, said.

We’ve made exciting progress on accessible technologies like Project Relate that help remove everyday barriers people face, but we know we have more to do.

“Our new Accessibility Discovery Centre creates a dedicated space to learn from and partner with the accessibility and disability communities to keep improving and building helpful products together.”

Project Relate is a Google app, which has just launched in beta in the UK, which enables people with non-standard speech to teach their device to understand them and communicate more easily.

Minister for disabled people, health and work, Tom Pursglove, said: “This Government remains committed to transforming the everyday lives of disabled people, so I welcome the opening of Google’s new Accessibility Discovery Centre.

“By bringing together disabled people and tech experts, the centre will help realise the potential of assistive technology to remove barriers and increase opportunity.”

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