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Google opens London research centre for disability support tech

Google research centre
Image credit: William Barton via Shutterstock

Google has opened a UK research and development centre to develop tech to support people with disabilities.

The tech giant has joined forces with the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, and the charity Everyone Can, to develop the centre in London.

The centre marks the first research centre for disabled support tech from Google outside of the US.

“Removing barriers to accessibility can have an enormous impact on everyday life,” said Rachael Bleakley, program manager at Google.

Bleakley said the centre will be a “workshop for research and product development, and a space for collaborating, co-designing and learning with the accessibility and disability communities”.

Among the projects under development by Google to support disabled people is the app Project Relate, which launched its beta in the UK last week. The app is designed to help people with non-standard speech to communicate clearly with others.

The app learns the unique speech patterns of its users so that it can transcribe and repeat their speech.

Alongside the launch of the centre, Google has pledged £1m to go towards creating economic opportunities for people with disabilities in the UK and Europe. The money will be split into three grants.

“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,” said Christopher Patnoe, from Google’s inclusion team.

The centre opening follows the establishment of a separate centre for disability support tech, which opened last week in London’s Olympic Park.