Digital tools are providing more insight into the accessibility of learning materials, and even automating some steps in making more accessible alternatives available. "We have been fighting this uphill battle of content accessibility for years, and we have been fighting it without knowing what is actually out there," said Jeremy Olguin, accessible technology manager at California State University Chico, also called Chico State (https://www.csuchico.edu/).
Apple has announced that its Everyone Can Code course materials are now accessible to students who are blind and deaf. Everyone Can Code teaches coding in Swift, a programing language. The simple, fun coding lessons can be modified to suit students from kindergarten to college. It’s also fun to use, because it lets you see what you’re creating with code as you write it - as the user types on the left, he or she immediately see the result on the right.
On MacStories.net, tech writer Steven Aquino presents an interesting analysis on the impact of Apple technology on the lives of people with disabilities. “I have disabilities myself, so I'm part of the group who uses assistive technology to access their Apple devices,” says Mr. Aquino on his personal blog.
“There is still a prevailing stereotype that equates disability with difficulty and cost. In fact, our research for the last ten years shows that, in 60 percent of cases, there is no additional cost to employing someone with a disability,” says the Executive Director of the Association of Higher Education and Disability, or AHEAD.
Technology, says this article on Real Business (https://realbusiness.co.uk) is the solution to creating a “transparent and equal global enterprise environment.” The opinion piece from a communications technology company argues Artificial Intelligence (AI), for example, can go beyond booking meeting rooms and turning on lights on command.
“Companies are often held back by a perception that recruiting people with disabilities is too difficult and costly,” says Jill Miller, in a special report in the Financial Times. Jill Miller is the Diversity and inclusion adviser at the UK’s Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. “However, a lot of the ‘reasonable adjustments’ are low-cost and relatively easy to implement.”
In 2015 North American travelers with disabilities spent $17.3 billion on travel, significantly more than $13.6 billion in 2002. At the same time, complaints about airlines made by passengers with disabilities have doubled to more than 30,000 per year. Amadeus, a travel industry technology company, released a report on barriers to accessibility across stages of the passenger journey that may hold some answers as to why.
In South Korea, consumer electronics manufacturer Samsung is looking at ways that technology, including artificial intelligence, can help people with disabilities. Samsung says its developers are “listening closely to the feedback of those with disabilities, and developing tests so they can directly experience the inconveniences themselves.” Samsung says it is developing a number of technologies with an eye to ensuring accessibility for anyone and everyone, that have the potential to dramatically help those with disabilities, the elderly, and many others.
Skype has several improvements to its accessibility on the way, as part of Microsoft’s mission to “make technology more accessible and empower people to achieve more.” According to an article on Microsoft’s news site ON-MSFT, the Skype development team has been using user feedback and comments to address “accessibility issues.”
Video game developers are taking changes to accessibility rules into consideration. At the spring 2018 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, game developers from Owlchemy gave a presentation called “Accessibility in VR: How It Can Be Better.” The developers shared their own research on the subject gathered from a total of 82 virtual reality games. For each of those games, they attempted to play both sitting and standing, examined the availability of options and what they offered, gauged the reliance on audio, and recorded how much bending or reaching was required to play.
On The Chronicle of Higher Education, Assistant Director of Educational Technology at Yale University Michelle Morgan asks education professionals to consider the historical bias toward printed text, and to look for opportunities to consider alternative methods of delivering course materials. This will be of benefit not just for the students who need it, but all students, because in doing so professors and teachers can flesh out the learning experience.
It’s time for “greater representation for diversity within the emoji universe,” says Apple. The tech giant recently proposed a new line of emoji to the Unicode Consortium. Unicode is one of the computing industry’s standards for the consistent encoding, representation, and handling of text. Working with organizations like American Council of the Blind, the Cerebral Palsy Foundation and the National Association of the Deaf, Apple proposed a total of 13 new emoji, for a total of 45 when including variants for gender and skin tone.
Many workplaces are ill-equipped to provide access for individuals with both physical and mental disabilities,” says this article from CIOReview.com, but now that technology is becoming central to almost every industry, it is easier than ever before for employers to ensure that the technologies they purchase have accessibility features that cater to all employees.