Accessible Hardware and Software

Assistive technology contributes to the independence, productivity and participation for people with disabilities allowing them to participate at an equal level.

Some of the most innovative devices in our society have been developed from research intended to help people with disabilities.

Here are a few examples1:

  • Voice command technology, first developed for people with disabilities, is now used in GPS navigational devices, cars, computers and hands-free phones. Apple’s I-Phone Shuffle, built with a hands-free, voice control interface, is a prime example of a device originally designed for people with vision impairments that now has huge global appeal.
  • Predictive text software was intended to help people with disabilities communicate. Today, it is used extensively in search engines and email programs to improve communication for all. A popular captioning tool that is used around the globe to add captions in 50 languages to uploaded videos was originally intended to help people with hearing impairments watch YouTube videos.
  • Mind control technology is now the basis for innovative games and toys controlled by brainwaves. This unique technology was developed to help people with severe physical disabilities control electronic devices with brain impulses.

You can refer to Business Takes Action’s partners section for software and hardware vendors.

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) is an international vendor-neutral consortium developing key standards for the Web. Key web technologies developed are through a multi-stakeholder and consensus-oriented process. These technologies include HTML, CSS, XML, SVG, SMIL, and many more that are used by developers to create websites and web software.

Within the W3C, the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) works to make the Web accessible to people with disabilities through: - Accessibility support in W3C technologies - Guideline for implementing accessibility - Conducting education and outreach - Coordinating with research and development world-wide Companies can learn tips about making their website content and documents more accessible and easier to use for individuals with disabilities. Accessible information supports a company’s customers and its employees. There is no need to re-architect an entire website, instead address the user interface and the formats of documents and other content such as video.

References. 1 Jana R. How High Tech for the Disabled is Going Mainstream. Business Week. September 24, 2009.