Tag Archives: Diversity and Inclusion

Robbie Ivey’s story: how technology removes barriers

At Google we believe in the power of technology to make a difference in people’s lives. And for 19-year-old Robbie Ivey from Michigan, that certainly rings true.


Robbie has duchenne muscular dystrophy, which has left him able to control only his eyes, head and right thumb joint. Among the many challenges Robbie and his family face, nighttime is one of the key ones. For years, Robbie’s mom Carrie has set her alarm every few hours to get up and change his position in bed so he doesn’t get bed sores or infections. Earlier this year, a sleep-deprived Carrie put out a message to the Muscular Dystrophy Association asking for help to try and find a better way.  She got a response from Bill Weir, a retired tech worker, who thought he could set up Robbie’s bed to be controlled by voice activation. While working on the bed, Bill had an epiphany: if he can control the bed this way, why not everything else in Robbie’s bedroom universe?


As part of our efforts to spotlight accessible technologies throughout National Disability Awareness Month, we hear directly from Robbie about how technology has helped him gain more independence in his life as he starts off on his first year at Oakland Universityin Rochester.

From design to development, user feedback shapes Google’s approach to accessibility

It’s a hot day in Jakarta, Indonesia, and the Google Accessibility User Experience team is being shown around the city. Their goal for the next 10 days is to understand the daily experience of various people living with disabilities in this city of more than 10 million people. Notebooks are out, cameras are rolling and Rachmad (a pseudonym), a student who is blind, is eager to share some of his experiences with the team to help us build products that help solve everyday obstacles for him and others.

jakarta research study

The Google Accessibility team's research study in Jakarta was aimed at understanding the experience of people living with disabilities there

As the group approaches a bus stop, Rachmad begins asking for help from passersby. A Jakarta local tells him which bus stop he’s at and where it will take him. He turns to the Google Accessibility team and says “Yeah, I kind of have to trust them and hope they are telling the truth.”

After a short bus ride and a long walk, the team returns to Rachmad’s home, where he shows them the four mobile devices he owns, each running different versions of operating systems depending on the task. A researcher notices he’s active within multiple online accessibility support communities and asks him about it. “Sometimes it can be difficult finding help for assistive tools. We try and help each other any way we can,” says Rachmad. 

This is a user research field study and it’s demonstrating one of Google’s key values: Focus on the user and all else will follow. User research is core to success throughout a product’s life cycle, and fundamental to creating a product that works for as many people as possible, including people with disabilities. From defining product vision to development and onwards, here's how the Google Accessibility team uses research to ensure our products are more inclusive:

Define the product vision

No matter what the product or service is, it’s important to first understand what problems need solving and how the current solutions could be improved. Observing and talking to a diverse set of users with and without disabilities about their challenges, needs, and workarounds can provide richer insights and drive designs that all users may benefit from. Identifying these insights during early brainstorms and design sprints can help approach problems from different perspectives and lead to more creative solutions.

Design with accessibility in mind

The insights gained from observing users can influence all aspects of design including interaction, visual, motion, and writing. Google’s Material Design Accessibility Guidelines and Designing for Global Accessibility principles summarize fundamental principles that help create more accessible products. For example, ensuring there is good contrast between text and the background will help people with low vision or people trying to read a phone screen in the sun. Tools like the Material Color Tool can help make choosing more accessible color palettes easier.

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Google’s Material Design Accessibility Guidelines provide guidance on accessible design, such as ensuring enough contrast between text and background

Our team often says that "accessible design is just good design." Indeed, if you look at the bigger picture, the goal of creating products is to help people create things, find things, watch things—in short, to accomplish things. Why would any product team want to make it more challenging for a user to accomplish their goals? That's why we encourage teams to use the accessibility design guidelines to influence early design choices. Like most things worth doing, designing with accessibility in mind takes practice and work. But it's key to designing a robust user experience for all.

Develop and iterate

Throughout the design and development of a product, there are many opportunities to get additional input from diverse users. Any type of evaluative research, like usability studies, can be made more inclusive by testing with people with and without disabilities. At this stage, teams can gain more specific insights on the actual experience for the user. For example, an application could present a notification for a longer period so that it doesn’t disappear too quickly for someone with a learning disability or someone who was simply too distracted to read it. While design guidelines can help a product with fundamental accessibility, nothing substitutes for actually watching a person using a screen reader, switch access device, or other assistive technology to truly understand the quality of the user experience.

After a product launches

Once a product launches, teams can use feedback surveys, app ratings, customer support calls and emails to get a wealth of qualitative input. And filtering this feedback by users with accessibility needs can continue to paint the picture of their full experience.

This is also the perfect time to stop and understand what benefits were gained from designing inclusively from the beginning, and to apply lessons learned to the next product development cycle. Over time, it can become second nature to design inclusively.

Products are a product of user feedback

Returning to our researchers in Jakarta: After they came back from their trip, they worked to bring awareness to their findings by sharing insights and solutions with other teams at Google, including the Next Billion Users group to help them think about accessibility for people in emerging markets. Rachmad’s comments about how it can be difficult finding help for assistive tools informed the creation of a new Google support team dedicated to helping people with disabilities who have questions on assistive technology or accessibility within Google's products. On a product level, the Jakarta team provided valuable input for the group behind Lookout, an app coming soon to the U.S. that helps people who are blind and visually impaired learn about their surroundings. Once available, people like Rachmad will hear cues from their Android phones, helping them gain more independence.

Focusing on accessibility from the beginning can influence product direction as well as develop robust insights that teams can learn from and build upon in future work—all in an effort to effectively build for everyone.  If you’re interested in helping shape the future of accessibility at Google, sign up to participate in future user studies.

What’s that you say? Present with captions in Google Slides

Years ago in a Long Island doctor’s office, four-year-old Laura was fitted with her first pair of hearing aids, customized to compensate for her specific hearing loss. However, they didn’t work very well, particularly in noisy backgrounds, so she eventually stopped wearing them.


A few years later on a school bus in Bethesda, MD, nine-year-old Abigail sat next to a classmate who taught her how to communicate using American Sign Language. In high school, she worked in a biology lab at the National Eye Institutewhere she researched retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disorder that causes loss of vision.


Flash forward to today where we, Laura and Abigail, work at Google, building products with accessibility features that help billions of users across the globe. We met earlier, through the accessibility community at MIT, where we studied computer science with the hopes of using our technical skills to make a difference in people’s lives.


During our time at university, Abigail built a solution that helped a blind man use his touch-screen oven, led a team that enabled blind individuals to sign legal documents independently, and co-founded an assistive technology hackathon. Laura researched a new signal processing algorithm for hearing aids in noisy environments, built an app for residents in a neurological disease care facility to call for help in a more accessible way, and worked on a hands-free page turner for individuals unable to use their arms. This work not only made us see what an impact technology can make on people with accessibility needs, but also motivated us to focus our careers in this area when we graduated.


When we landed at Google, we both independently joined the G Suite accessibility team. As part of this team, we've improved screen reader, Braille and screen magnifier support on Google Docs, Sheets and Slides, and we have represented the Google Accessibility team at external conferences. We’re also involved with the American Sign Language community at Google, which promotes inclusivity among all Googlers through shared language.


Recently, an internal hackathon led us to work on a project that is deeply personal. Upon observing that presentations can be challenging for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing to follow along, we both teamed up with the idea to add automated closed captions to G Suite’s presentation tool, Google Slides.


This work has moved from a passion project to our full-time job, and today we’re officially launching automated closed captions in Google Slides. The feature will gradually roll out to all Slides users starting this week.

Google Slides Closed Captions

An example of closed captions in Google Slides

How it works

The closed captions feature is available when presenting in Google Slides. It uses your computer’s microphone to detect your spoken presentation, then transcribes—in real time—what you say as captions on the slides you’re presenting.  When you begin presenting, click the “CC” button in the navigation box (or use the shortcut Ctrl + Shift + c in Chrome OS / Windows or ⌘ + Shift + c in Mac).


As you start speaking into your device’s microphone, automated captions will appear in real time at the bottom of your screen for your audience to see. The feature works for a single user presenting in U.S. English on a laptop or desktop computer, using the Chrome browser. We’re looking to expand the feature to more countries and languages over time. The captions are powered by machine learning and heavily influenced by the speaker's accent, voice modulation, and intonation. We’re continuing to work on improving caption quality.


Closed captioning in Slides can help audience members like Laura who are deaf or hard of hearing, but it can also be useful for audience members without hearing loss who are listening in noisy auditoriums or rooms with poor sound settings. Closed captioning can also be a benefit when the presenter is speaking a non-native language or is not projecting their voice. The fact that the feature was built primarily for accessibility purposes but is also helpful to all users shows the overall value for everyone of incorporating accessibility into product design.


You might think that the experiences we had growing up are the reasons we were inspired to work on accessibility at Google. That’s partly true. But we really got into this work for its potential to improve the lives of people with disabilities, for the interesting technologies and design constraints, and because of our desire to use our skills to make the world a better place. We’re excited to contribute to that effort with closed captions in Google Slides, and we’re eager to share it with you. Visit our help center to learn more.

Vint Cerf on accessibility, the cello and noisy hearing aids

The Internet is undoubtedly a transformative technology, changing how people all over the world live and work. One of the key figures responsible for designing the architecture of the Internet is Dr. Vint Cerf, who along with Robert E. Kahn is known as one of the “fathers of the Internet.” Dr Cerf also been Google’s chief internet evangelist for last 12 years. This Disability Awareness Month, we sat down with him to learn more about the impact of technology on the more than 1 billion people with disabilities and why building accessible products matters to him on a personal level.


Many people might not know this, but you have a hearing impairment.

Vint: I was born six weeks prematurely in 1943. In those days, they put babies in oxygen tents to help them breathe with immature lungs. It’s thought that this treatment led to a progressing nerve loss which continues to this day—at about 1 dB loss per year. I’ve been wearing hearing aids for over 60 years.

Most kids hate to be different and just want to fit in. Wearing hearing aids must have been hard. How did you deal with that?

I began wearing dual hearing aids at age 13, in junior high. It was pretty noticeable. On the other hand, I was already a self-proclaimed geek and went on to high school wearing sports coats, slacks and ties. If I was going to look different, I decided to do it with style!

What advice would you give your younger self about how to get comfortable with your hearing impairment?

There was no hiding those bulky, behind-the-ear hearing aids. Now I’m very open about it, even though the hearing aids are less noticeable. My advice to my younger self would have been to try to get more matter-of-fact about my hearing loss. One awkward problem—especially with behind-the-ear aids—is that they squealed when you were making out. Wrecks the mood. On the other hand, taking them off made me incommunicado. Tough choices!

vint cerf in 1956 and in 1973

Left: Vint in 1956. (Look familiar? We've shared this photo before.) Right: Rocking an ascot circa 1973.

Did you ever feel your hearing impairment held you back?

I don’t think I ever felt “held back,” although fast-talking comedians are often frustrating because I miss the too-fast punch lines. But I have learned to adapt my practices to diminish the effects of deafness. For example, I do Q&A on stage by roaming around with a microphone so I can get close enough to lip read if I have to.

How would you say your disability has shaped your own interaction with technology?

While at UCLA for my Ph.D., I got involved in the ARPANET project. Around 1971, Ray Tomlinson developed the idea of networked electronic mail, which was hugely attractive to me because it replaced uncertain voice calls with the clarity of text. The development of the Internet was undertaken in the context of heavy use of email.

The rise of video conferencing has actually been a huge challenge for me as it reintroduces some of the uncertainty of voice calling and I look forward to real-time, automatic captioning to overcome the limitations that medium poses for me.

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Vint Cerf (right) with Jon Postel and Steve Crocker in 1994. The three were part of the team working on the ARPAnet, which eventually became today's Internet. 

Was accessibility something you were thinking of when you and Bob Kahn were developing the protocols for the creation of the Internet?

Not at the time. Today, however, given the huge advantages of computer applications, it’s a high priority to ensure that disabilities do not prevent people from gaining the full benefit of online and offline digital environments.

In an interview with “The Washington Post” you said, “I traded in my cello for a keyboard.” What would life would have been like if you hadn’t made that switch?

I wish I had not treated this as a binary choice. It is entirely possible to have both but I didn’t fully appreciate that at the time. I did get to attend a masters class led by Pablo Casals at Berkeley in 1958. It was truly inspiring but computers grabbed my attention even more dramatically at that time. Perhaps it is time to go back to see whether I can regain that skill. The cello is a magnificent instrument.

You’re married to someone who has a hearing impairment—but she got cochlear implants that really changed her life. You have quite a funny story about that.

Sigrid was born with normal hearing but lost it at age three after a bout with spinal meningitis. She was profoundly deaf, and functioned in a hearing world through lip-reading.

At age 53, she received her first cochlear implant. It functioned spectacularly well. After that, she was eager to make and receive phone calls—even from solicitors. She got one call from an AT&T salesperson in India and asked "oh, which part of India are you from?" The conversation went on for quite a while. Finally the poor salesperson asked, "So you're going to switch to AT&T?" and Sigrid said, "Oh no, my husband is SVP at MCI but thanks for calling!"

Vint Cerf and his wife Sigrid circa 1969

Vint and his wife Sigrid circa 1969

What lessons have you learned from others with disabilities?

Jack Chen is a lawyer at Google who is blind and does stuff that I think is nuts (like bicycle riding) but he’s wonderfully open to discussing blindness and his coping mechanisms. It is from my interactions with Jack that I refined and reinforced my own comfort with talking about the challenges of deafness. I remember asking him whether he cooked. He said, “Yes!” Then I asked him, how can you tell if the food is cooked? He said, “I touch it with my fingers.” That’s when I said I wasn’t going to eat steaks that he pan fried. We both had a good laugh. It’s incredibly important to be able to laugh about some of the situations disabilities put you in.

What message do you have for people creating technology today and how they should think about accessibility?

It must be thought through during the design phase of any product. Accessibility and ease of use go hand in hand. Many people experience temporary disability (broken arm, leg, finger, blocked ears…) and appreciate the value of accessibility features from that experience. There is no excuse for making products that are not accessible. 

Thanking Latino-led small businesses this Hispanic Heritage Month

I first met Eve Rodriguez Montoya, the creator of Yogolandia Yogurt & Botana Bar, at a roundtable focused on the challenges facing Latino-owned small businesses. In 2016, she wanted to bring more healthy food options to her neighborhood, Chicago’s Little Village. She decided to open a frozen yogurt shop that featured the Mexican flavors she grew up with and loved, like horchata, pepino and churros. And to bring her vision to life, she turned to technology. Google Search helped her learn how to create a business plan and to find suppliers. Once she was ready to open her doors, she used Google My Business to make sure customers could find her on Google Search and Maps. Today, business is thriving, she has four employees and she's collaborated with a few businesses in Chicago to feature her unique flavors.

We’re excited to see how Latinos across the country are using technology to grow their businesses and support local communities. This Hispanic Heritage Month, we're encouraging Latino-led businesses to make sure they’ve claimed their free business listing on Google. To help them keep growing, we’re also offering these businesses free marketing materials from Small Thanks with Google, including customized assets, like posters and social posts, featuring real Google reviews from customers.

small thanks - hispanic heritage month

If you're a Latino-led business, make sure to get on the map. And to everyone else, we hope you'll join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month and the small businesses in your community!

Use your voice to access the world with a new Android app

Everyone can benefit from hands-free support when using technology, but for the 62 million people in the U.S. with motor and mobility impairments, it can be a vital requirement. For Stefanie Putnam, a quadriplegic and a para-equestrian driver, tasks like taking photos, sending texts and composing emails could be daunting.

Stefanie was one of several people the Google Accessibility team worked with to test early prototypes of a feature which allowed people to control their Android device using voice-only commands. Her feedback—and that of other testers—was instructional in shaping a new product we’ve just released called Voice Access.

“After using this product for probably about 10 seconds, I think I’m falling in love with it,” said Stefanie. “You use your voice and you’re able to access the world. It has become a huge staple in my life.”

Stefanie Putnam testing Voice Access

Stefanie Putnam testing Voice Access

Voice Access provides a hands-free experience for Android, letting people navigate through apps, compose and edit text, and talk to the Google Assistant. It provides more fine-grained controls than other voice commands you might use on your phone—for example, letting you use your voice to "click" buttons and controls within apps, or scroll and navigate app screens. And while there are great benefits for individuals with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injury and more, Voice Access can also provide value to people who don’t have a disability—people juggling with groceries or in the middle of cooking.

Screenshots of voice commands used by Voice Access

Screenshots of voice commands used by Voice Access

When using Voice Access, you can compose and edit a text message hands free by saying “Ok Google,” and open your favorite app with the “open” command. Then, select the text field by speaking the number Voice Access displays next to it. After saying your message out loud, like “would you like to meet for lunch tomorrow?” you can edit the text using phrases like “replace tomorrow with Saturday” to change the day you want to meet. Speaking commands such as “delete the line” or “undo” will start over and when you’ve finished, you can say “stop listening.”  There are many more examples of available commands on oursupport page.

Screenshot of an Android homepage using Voice Access

Screenshot of an Android homepage using Voice Access

Feedback like Stefanie’s consistently shapes the future of Google’s products. You can help our Central Accessibility team build even more accessible products by signing up to participate in future user studies.   

Voice Access is available globally supporting English commands, with additional language support coming in the future.  Learn more about Voice Access  and download the app from Google Play today.

Use your voice to access the world with a new Android app

Everyone can benefit from hands-free support when using technology, but for the 62 million people in the U.S. with motor and mobility impairments, it can be a vital requirement. For Stefanie Putnam, a quadriplegic and a para-equestrian driver, tasks like taking photos, sending texts and composing emails could be daunting.

Stefanie was one of several people the Google Accessibility team worked with to test early prototypes of a feature which allowed people to control their Android device using voice-only commands. Her feedback—and that of other testers—was instructional in shaping a new product we’ve just released called Voice Access.

“After using this product for probably about 10 seconds, I think I’m falling in love with it,” said Stefanie. “You use your voice and you’re able to access the world. It has become a huge staple in my life.”

Stefanie Putnam testing Voice Access

Stefanie Putnam testing Voice Access

Voice Access provides a hands-free experience for Android, letting people navigate through apps, compose and edit text, and talk to the Google Assistant. It provides more fine-grained controls than other voice commands you might use on your phone—for example, letting you use your voice to "click" buttons and controls within apps, or scroll and navigate app screens. And while there are great benefits for individuals with Parkinson's disease, multiple sclerosis, arthritis, spinal cord injury and more, Voice Access can also provide value to people who don’t have a disability—people juggling with groceries or in the middle of cooking.

Screenshots of voice commands used by Voice Access

Screenshots of voice commands used by Voice Access

When using Voice Access, you can compose and edit a text message hands free by saying “Ok Google,” and open your favorite app with the “open” command. Then, select the text field by speaking the number Voice Access displays next to it. After saying your message out loud, like “would you like to meet for lunch tomorrow?” you can edit the text using phrases like “replace tomorrow with Saturday” to change the day you want to meet. Speaking commands such as “delete the line” or “undo” will start over and when you’ve finished, you can say “stop listening.”  There are many more examples of available commands on oursupport page.

Screenshot of an Android homepage using Voice Access

Screenshot of an Android homepage using Voice Access

Feedback like Stefanie’s consistently shapes the future of Google’s products. You can help our Central Accessibility team build even more accessible products by signing up to participate in future user studies.   

Voice Access is available globally supporting English commands, with additional language support coming in the future.  Learn more about Voice Access  and download the app from Google Play today.

The accessibility team helping make our products work for everyone

At the end of 2017, the Google Primer team contacted Google's Central Accessibility team. They wanted feedback on the accessibility of their app—but also input on whether it was useful for people with disabilities. This kicked off a larger conversation. The Primer app is used by business owners, startups and marketers to learn new business and marketing skills. As the two teams discussed, they wondered, “What if we don’t just improve the accessibility of our own app, but also create brand new lessons in Primer to teach businesses and app developers how to build their websites and apps with accessibility in mind?” Building products that don’t consider a diverse range of needs could mean missing a substantial group of potential users and customers. For business owners particularly, it’s not just the right thing to do, it’s also good for business.


Fast forward to this May, when Google Primer introduced a new version of the app, designed to be more accessible and usable for people with disabilities. At the same time, they launched new accessibility lessons to help others do the same. These lessons have been used by business owners, developers, and marketers around the world to learn how to better serve their customers with disabilities.


This kind of partnership is at the heart of the work the Central Accessibility Team does to make Google’s products more accessible to the more than 1 billion people in the world living with a disability. Making accessibility a core consideration from the earliest stage of product design results in better outcomes that improve lives. And as we mark Disability Awareness Month we’re  shining a spotlight on this team and other accessibility efforts across Google.

The Central Accessibility Team spans many roles: software engineers, product and program managers, user experience designers and researchers, testers and others. Like many teams across Google, we have team members with and without disabilities. Our work covers a diverse set of areas including:

  • Providing guidance:We offer advice and training to all Google product teams on how to incorporate accessibility into how we design, build, and test our products.

  • Incorporating accessibility:We include accessibility into software development platforms and guidelines, such as our Android Accessibility Developer Docs.

  • Building better products:We build automated testing and analysis tools that Google product teams (and external developers!) can use to check for common accessibility issues, and we also build products directly for end users with disabilities. As part of this we hope to empower Google's teams to be champions of accessibility (as with Primer), and even potentially inspire third parties.

  • Listening to our community:We invite people to participate in user research in order to develop a deeper understanding on how usable our products are and ways to improve them. We also partner with organizations outside of Google to collaborate on joint initiatives and user training.

Some examples of our work across the company include captioning over 1 billion YouTube videos, building an out-of-the-box screen reader for Chrome (ChromeVox), developing a suite of accessibility tools for Android and many more.

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Screenshot of automatic captions on a YouTube video

More recently, we’ve announced Lookout, an app to help people who are blind learn about their surroundings. Voice Access is a new accessibility service for Android that lets you use your Android device without touching the screen. We’ve also introduced a dedicated Disability Support team available to help answer questions about assistive features and functionalities within Google products.

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Screenshots of the Lookout app’s features and object identification

Accessibility is a wider field than you might think—it’s not just for people with permanent disabilities. We also need to consider people who have a temporary impairment, for example, a broken leg and have difficulty getting around, or people who are doing everyday things like driving a car or holding groceries in both hands and need to perform a task.

And let’s not forget that products created for accessibility have the potential to become useful for everyone. Inventions like the typewriter, books on tape, closed captions, voice-enabled TV and voice controls were all initially meant to focus on people with a disability, and found a much broader use case. This goes to show that the accessibility problems of today can lead to the technology breakthroughs of tomorrow.

The Central Accessibility team is passionate about Google's products and driven by the thought of a world made for everyone, without limits or barriers. But at Google, accessibility is everyone’s responsibility. And to see how we’re living up to that responsibility, stay tuned for more insights and news over the coming month.

We made it to #GHC18! Here’s what Googlers are looking forward to.

Today, technologists from around the globe are landing in Houston for this year’s Grace Hopper Celebration (GHC). It’s the ultimate meeting of the minds—over 20,000 women and allies from different backgrounds get together to learn, share ideas, and most importantly, get to know each other. The sense of community at Grace Hopper is one of the reasons women come back every year, including many Googlers who will be in Houston this week to participate in talks, panels, workshops and hanging out at our booths at the Career Fair and Technology Showcase.

There's a lot happening at GHC and large conferences can feel a bit overwhelming at times, so we spoke to a few Googlers (and experienced Grace Hopper-goers) to find out their tips and tricks for getting the most out of GHC:

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Reena Lee (right) at #GHC16

Get inspired

I always look forward to that awesome energy the first time I enter the keynote room and find myself surrounded by thousands of amazing women in technology from all over the world. - Alejandra Estanislao, Software Engineer

There’s inspiration everywhere at GHC. Check out the “Beyond ‘Be Confident’” panel or the “Pivot or Die” panel to learn from the career journeys of inspiring women, including Googlers Karen Ng, Group Product Manager and Sara Khoury, User Experience Design Director.

Pick up new skills

I'm looking forward to helping attendees create their first Actions on Google action that will be published so the world can try it with the Google Assistant right after the conference! - Reena Lee, Product Manager

Take advantage of hands-on learning experiences like the “Getting Started with Actions on Google” workshop led by Mandy Chan, Developer Community Manager, and the “Nail Your Promotion” workshop with Catherine Courage, VP, Design.

Meet new people

I'm pretty sure everyone says this but my favorite part is always meeting some pretty baller women! I can't tell you the number of times I've just been blown away by what pretty much everyone has accomplished and I have yet to meet anyone at the conference that didn't have an interesting story to tell. - Arathi Mani, Software Engineer

Look for opportunities to strike up a chat with your fellow conference-goers. We’ve got plenty of conversation-starting experiences at our booth at the Career Fair, the technology showcase, and our Google on the Green activation at Discovery Green before and after conference hours.

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Arathi Mani (second left) with Alan Eustace (second right) and other Googlers at #GHC15

Connect with your community

I served as a Google Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) Site Lead in Cambridge, MA this past summer. We taught 30 under-represented rising college freshmen the basics of HTML, CSS, Javascript, Python, and App Engine over the course of 3 weeks. I'm really looking forward to seeing my former CSSIers, who are now scattered throughout the US and Canada for college! - Gloria Li, Associate Financial Analyst

Catch the “Effective Networking” panel to hear from Michelle Duffy, Engineering Director, Site Reliability Engineering and other technologists about building community across organizations. Learn how conversations at events like GHC can turn into lasting relationships!

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Words of wisdom jotted down by Soujanya Aithal at #GHC14

Get a different perspective

This year my aim is to understand the challenges faced by women in tech from different backgrounds, benefits and challenges posed by societal norms and cultures, and understand the technical projects attendees are working on. - Soujanya Aithal, Software Engineer

Seek out opportunities to get a new view on things, such as the Machine Learning for Everyone workshop, where software engineers and research scientists discuss creating inclusive machine learning algorithms.

Take time to recharge

Incorporate the downtime you need into your schedule. Also don't give in to FOMO—it's OK to miss some things in order to have a good experience at other sessions. - Tod Hilton, Technical Writer

This is important. There are many exciting things to do at GHC, so make sure you prioritize the events that matter most to you and make time for rest.

Join the online conversation

If you can’t make it to Houston for #GHC18, no worries, we’ve got you covered. Follow the @LifeatGoogle and @GoogleStudents social media channels, where we’ll be sharing event highlights and behind-the-scenes content all week long.


With the help of Google Search, one woman finds her way

Robin Máxkii always felt caught between worlds—her reservation in Wisconsin, where she lived until age 11, and the urban sprawl of Houston, where she went to high school. During her late teens and early 20s, she maintained a blog, Native Notes, where she wrote passionately about native issues. One day, she received an anonymous comment that would change her life. It stated that if she wanted to actively change the community she wrote about, she should go to college. The seed was planted—she just needed to figure out how.


Robin turned to Google Search and before she knew it, she found her place at a tribal college. There, she became a campus leader, and took internships that helped her advocate for greater access to tech for her community.


Robin’s journey is the subject of our latest episode of “Search On,” Google’s original documentary series that tells the stories of people on a quest for better answers and the magic that happens when they find them at the intersection of tech and humanity. As we celebrate the 20th anniversary of Google and Google Search, we couldn’t think of a story that better exemplifies the tremendous possibilities that come when people have access to information. Watch Robin’s story above, and read more at g.co/betweenworlds.

Source: Search