The Future of Accessibility in a Technological World

There are numerous technological advances that have made a once inaccessible world into a world of access for people from different walks of life. Technologies like automated captioning or digital Braille software gives the user essential information that would have been missed or delayed in previous years.

Technology is always evolving, and we would like to highlight some successful breakthroughs:

CART:

CART stands for Communication Access Realtime Translation and is used to translate speech to text by a professional CART provider. CART has been used in schools, colleges, conferences, training courses and more.

VRI:

VRI (Video Remote Interpreting) is used when a deaf or hard of hearing person and a hearing person are in the same place while the interpreter who is in a different location communicates via video.

Snapchat: 

Sending quick, in the moment videos and photos through your smartphone makes life additionally fun. But what if you could learn while doing so? Snapchat recently added a new feature to their app called the ASL Alphabet Lens. Using hand-tracking technology, this feature teaches and allows users to fingerspell.

Refreshable Braille Display:

According to the American Foundation for the Blind, “Braille displays provide access to information on a computer screen by electronically raising and lowering different combinations of pins in braille cells. A braille display can show up to 80 characters from the screen and is refreshable—that is, it changes continuously as the user moves the cursor around on the screen, using either the command keys, cursor routing keys, or Windows and screen reader commands. The braille display sits on the user’s desk, often underneath the computer keyboard. The advantage of braille displays over synthetic speech are that it provides direct access to information; allows the user to check format, spacing, and spelling; and is quiet.”

Captioning:

Captioning has been used for as long as we can remember. The first television program that it premiered on was back in 1972 on PBS. The show was called The French Chef and it was hosted by the notable Julia Child. The captioning that was burned into tv programs such as that is known as “open captions” (meaning that captions can’t be turned off). This revolutionary accessibility tool eventually led to the technological advancement and use of “closed captions” (where captions can be turned on or off to the viewers’ discretion). Today, closed captioning is embedded in many service providers such as Netflix, Hulu, and HBO Max where millions of users attain access.

MultiPOP™:

MultiPOP™, a new, innovative technology, takes accessibility to a whole new level. This service, created by our very own engineers, gives accessibility to the viewer by using a picture-over-picture engine to provide a sign language window. That window provides a sign language interpretation of audio content in the main program audio/video content.

Screen Reader

A screen reader is a unique piece of technology that assists people who are blind or have low vision. It works by reading the content on the screen aloud or translates it into Braille.

Accessibility is people centric. It is observing the basic unmet needs of those around us, and then working together to ensure that all people have equal access to all components of life. Technological advancements in the field of accessibility are based on the needs of people at its core – and it can range from simple physical changes to development of Artificial Intelligence software.

One such technological advancement is seen in the case of seven-year-old Hirranyaa Rajani from Mumbai India who built an app to make the learning of sign language easier and more accessible in India. Little Hirranyaa learned to code through an online learning platform for children. Hirranyaa who has a brother with a disability has always been perceptive to the needs of people with disabilities and was intrigued by Sign Language. Through the little coding she had learned through an online learning platform, she developed a sort of digital flashcard application that would make learning Indian Sign Language easier for younger children in any learning environment. Hirranyaa’s initial version might be basic, but she is still working on making advancements. Her drive and passion for accessibility is something to be aspired to by Technology developers in the industry today!

Everyone matters – no matter how they communicate. It’s important to remember that when you’re building a website or introducing it to a work environment. With copious amounts of technology, the possibilities for a more inclusive world are endless.

Resources: 

American Foundation for the Blind

Hirranya Rajani

The Future of Accessibility in a Technological World
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