Accessible Technology

Accessible Technology

Digital inclusion for people with disabilities

As with many International days of celebration, I was not aware of Global Accessibility Awareness Day on May 16th until too late to promote it.  (Launched in 2015, the day is designed to get everyone thinking and talking about improving digital access and inclusion for people with disabilities.)  I have, however, come across some very useful pieces of software and technology equipment for people with a range of disabilities.

  • Braille keyboards/refreshable braille displays
    • Refreshable braille displays convert the information on the screen on a phone or computer and translate it onto a specialised braille keyboard

  • Voice assistants
    • Siri, Alexa and Amazon Echo are examples of voice assistants.  You can find out the weather, call friends and family, order groceries or a taxi, or find out what noise a zebra makes!  The technology can help those with physical difficulties as it can play music, set an alarm or timer or even turn on lights or the television (with additional technological aids such as Google Home or Apple’s HomeKit).  Unfortunately, it needs to further advance to be efficient for those with speech difficulties

    • Smartphone-ready hearing aids
      • With the rise of smartphones, our mobiles nowadays do much more than make and receive telephone calls, but that doesn’t mean we no longer want the ability to do that.  Major technology companies have been working with hearing aid designers to ensure their devices are compatible with the hearing aids that people with hearing difficulties rely on every day.

      • Video calling
        • Another accessible option that smartphones offer those with hearing impairment as opposed to traditional phone calls is that of video calling.  Skype, Facetime and others allow for communication in a manner natural to this community; lip reading and sign language.

        • Live captions
          • This refers to the audio on television being converted into subtitles, in real time.  Powerpoint has also introduced this; useful in the workplace. Google has developed 2019 I/O, which will transcribe any audio or video including apps like YouTube and Instagram, and even videos the user makes themselves.

            More technologies being highlighted in the next blog …..