Opinionated and Honest Journalist – The Tech Industry’s Accessibility-Related Products and Launches This Week
It’s easy to dismiss Global Accessibility Awareness Day as just another feel-good event that the tech industry uses to show off their latest products. But as someone who lives with a disability, I can attest that accessibility is no mere buzzword. It’s a lifeline. So, let’s dive into what the biggest tech companies have launched this week.
Apple’s Assistive Access is a game-changer for people with cognitive disabilities or those who find the typical iOS interface overwhelming. The simpler interface, with fewer distractions and icons, allows users to customize their experience according to their needs. Live Speech and Personal Voice are equally impressive, helping users who are at risk of losing their ability to speak. And let’s not forget the Point and Speak feature, especially helpful for people with visual impairments.
Google’s Visual Question and Answer (or VQA) tool in the Lookout app is a welcome addition to the tech giant’s accessibility arsenal. Often, it is tricky to figure out how much detail to include in an image description, since you want to provide enough to be helpful but not so much that you overwhelm the user. But VQA lets the user decide how much information they want from a picture, instead of being constrained to an initial description.
Webex is making remote working more inclusive by launching real-time translation for more than 100 languages. This will not only benefit non-native speakers but also assist people with hearing impairments.
• Over one billion people in the world live with some form of disability.
• Accessibility is not just about catering to people with disabilities. It’s about creating an inclusive environment for everyone.
• Inclusivity is good for business. A study by the Return on Disability Group found that companies that embrace disability inclusion are more likely to excel financially.
Accessibility is not just an add-on to a product or service. It must be baked into the design, development, and testing stage. These companies are setting an example for the rest of the industry by launching products that address the diverse needs of their users. It’s high time we stop viewing accessibility as an afterthought and start treating it as an essential part of the tech industry.
This week’s launches show that the tech industry is committed to making their products and services accessible to all. But there’s still a long way to go. Accessibility is not a one-time solution. It requires continuous effort and improvement. So, let’s use GAAD as a reminder that accessibility should not be an afterthought, but rather a priority. We can only create a more inclusive world when we start by making technology inclusive.