The Importance of Making Technology Universal

If I were to inquire whether you believe that people with visual impairments should have access to the internet, what would your response be? I anticipate that you would likely agree that everyone should have access to the internet, regardless of any disability or form of assistive technology they may have. This sentiment is likely reflected in your opinion.

It is a logical and moral imperative that everyone should have the same opportunities in life; however, it is unfortunately the case that few people make the effort to ensure that accessibility is taken into account, and many individuals do not even contemplate the possibility. It is clear that further action is needed to ensure that everyone is given the same chances.

It is indeed regrettable that technology is not sufficiently accessible to people with disabilities. This is especially concerning when we consider that 15% of the world population has a disability. Neglecting the needs of this significant proportion of the population is effectively neglecting the needs of the other 85% who do not have any impairments. It is our responsibility, both out of simple kindness and for the greater good of society, to ensure that technology is accessible to all.

Even those who have never encountered somebody with a disability have reported feeling compassion towards them. They are in favour of making technology as accessible as possible, however, due to their lack of contact with those who have a handicap, they are not always aware of the progress being made in this area.

It is understandable why many of us might be deceived by this notion, but it is wholly inaccurate. Everyone should be aware of and invested in accessibility; this is due to the fact that it is an important issue which affects us all.

Accessible Features

It is understandable that many people may question the importance of accessibility if it does not impact them directly. However, it is important to remember that disability can affect anyone, and it is important to advocate for those who are affected. We should all recognise the need for ease of access and offer our support, even if we are not personally affected by the issue. By doing this, we can create a more inclusive society for everyone.

It is not my intention to make any value judgements; however, if it is something that you have considered, you may wish to answer a different question. How regularly do you make use of the closed captioning function available on YouTube? Have you ever taken advantage of the black-and-white theme which is an option on many programmes? Additionally, have you ever used Siri? I am guessing that you answered yes to at least one of those queries. If that is the case, I have some excellent news for you: you are taking advantage of accessible features.

It is clear to see that the technologies initially designed to assist those with certain disabilities, such as hearing loss, vision impairment or physical disability, have been adapted to be beneficial to all. This is an example of inclusive design, which seeks to make products and services intuitive and user-friendly for everyone. It is reasonable to assume that everyone desires convenience, so why not make accessible features available to everyone? The development team behind accessibility features have worked hard to ensure that everyone can benefit from their work.

It has been observed that the technologies mentioned above have posed a challenge to designers and developers, requiring them to think outside the box in order to provide people with disabilities with the necessary features. This is due to the fact that the features implemented should be distinct from those used by non-disabled users. Fortunately, it is often possible to come up with innovative solutions by being creative, and these solutions can often benefit a large number of users.

It is clear that developers should make accessibility features a priority as a result of this process, but there is an even more convincing argument in favour of doing so.

Limitations in Capacity Will Catch You

It may seem alarming to contemplate the possibility of disability due to the natural process of ageing, however it is important to be aware of the potential risks. Whilst it is unlikely that you would become completely paralysed or blind, there is a significant chance that you may become disabled in the near future. Are you aware of this? As we get older, our cognitive abilities, sight and hearing start to decrease over time. Even if you don’t require assistance at present, that does not mean that you won’t need it in the future.

It is not just about convenience: when we consider the potential for worries, anxieties, burnout, substance use, and other factors to negatively affect us, it is clear that the importance of accessibility features should not be underestimated. For example, overuse of a computer monitor can cause damage to vision, work pressures can lead to a lack of comprehension, and alcohol consumption can impede movement. It is essential that we take these issues into account when assessing the value of accessibility features.

The concept of accessibility has become increasingly complex in recent times, with the addition of a new layer: technological proficiency. This is not a mistake; it is likely that everyone has a family member or friend who is not particularly tech-savvy. You could receive a call from a customer who is struggling with a simple task, such as logging into Facebook, setting up a smart TV or even adjusting the temperature on their thermostat. These are not necessarily challenges linked to impairments, but they are still very real.

It may be amusing to think of your father being clueless when it comes to using modern technology like WhatsApp, but your parents were likely just as perplexed when it came to setting up digital cable services. After all, they had mastered the analogue systems that preceded them but the transition to digital technology is a challenge that many of us face.

It is easy to consider the idea of making allowances for those with a disability to be superfluous, however, with the increasing reliance on digital technology (such as the Internet of Things), those who do not possess technical expertise may find themselves excluded from a considerable part of everyday life and will thus require assistance.

As our society continues to become increasingly reliant on digital technologies, it is becoming increasingly apparent that those who would benefit the most from these advancements, but are not in a position to take advantage of them, are being left behind. This is particularly noticeable in areas such as education, retail and employment, creating a widening divide between those with access to the latest technologies and those without.

Focusing on Accessibility

In order to ensure that technology is available to everyone, we need to take it seriously as a pressing matter. Unfortunately, we are not yet at a point where everyone is able to access and use these facilities with ease. Therefore, it is essential that we all work together to make sure that everyone has access to the same technology.

In light of the current situation, there is an urgent need to ensure that all individuals feel included. To this end, technology giants such as Google, Microsoft, and Apple are making considerable efforts to ensure that their respective products and services are as inclusive and user-friendly as possible. However, there is no guarantee of success in terms of giving individuals the autonomy to make the best decisions for themselves.

Businesses may not always have the resources, time or inclination to explore and implement the most appropriate accessibility solution for their products. Therefore, it is necessary to devise a comprehensive solution that can be tailored to the specific needs of disabled users by modifying existing interfaces.

Morphic, the upcoming operating system add-on, is an ideal example of the growing trend towards personalisation. This programme allows users to fully customise their computer experience by making adjustments such as changing font size and repositioning frequently used programmes to a more user-friendly location. As this software is designed to be tailored to individual requirements, it is like putting on a tailored pair of glasses – the general principle remains the same but it is customised to each individual user.

Despite the potential that these approaches offer in terms of making modern technology more accessible, there is still a need to debate how accessibility design should be incorporated into the development of new technologies. We cannot afford to simply launch new devices and then attempt to make them compatible for people with disabilities afterwards, as the technology of the future will be vastly different from what we are accustomed to today.

If we do not consider how people with speech impairments would use a voice assistant, then we are already failing to take into account the potential of such technology. This is not only true for voice assistants, but for any kind of experimental technology, such as virtual reality headsets, bionic implants and any other potential creations emanating from a startup’s research and development kitchen.

It is becoming increasingly clear that universal access to technology is a great benefit to humanity. We should focus on creating an even playing field and an open marketplace, as it has the potential to bring about a new level of convenience and support for individuals, as well as providing unique opportunities for engagement with the global community that is inclusive of all. We can all agree that such advancements would be of great benefit.

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