A few weeks back, I did an episode of the Beyond Devices Podcast on accessibility, in which I interviewed a former colleague of mine, Chris Lewis, who is registered blind. In the episode, Chris talks about how he uses an iPhone and Windows computers along with their various accessibility features and additional software to get his work as an analyst done. This week, Apple has a new set of videos out in which it showcases its accessibility features across various products, which continue to be among the best in the business. But as Chris and I discussed on the podcast, it appears Android and Samsung in particular are getting better at supporting accessibility features too, and Microsoft has also been making more fuss about this lately, although a lot of its PR around accessibility has been around custom projects created by employees and developers rather than standard features. It’s great to see all these companies taking accessibility seriously and using their technology to make a huge difference in the lives of people with vision, hearing, or other impairments. The Apple videos do a great job of conveying just how central these technologies are to the lives their subjects live. The timing is intended to coincide with Global Accessibility Awareness Day tomorrow.
With Project Torino, Microsoft creates a physical programming language inclusive of visually impaired children (Mar 15, 2017)
Technology has enormous power to provide opportunities to children and adults with disabilities which otherwise wouldn’t be open to them, but it can also exclude students in educational settings where tools are designed for those without disabilities or visual or other impairments. This Microsoft project is a great example of using technology to reinvent a concept – coding – in such a way that both those with normal vision and the visually impaired can participate together. It’s just a beta project on a very limited scale for now, but hopefully it will expand into something broader down the road. Even better, of course, is building accessibility technology into the devices and services we use every day, something Microsoft has long been committed to as well.