Assistive technology can help people with disabilities lead more connected lives. It’s not a niche market either, and big tech companies are starting to make these assistive technology devices a priority.
According to data from the Pew Research Center, the 56 million Americans living with a disability are three times more likely to say they never connect to the internet – and that’s not because they hate pop-up ads. These users are missing out on the benefits of technology, as the most popular devices are not designed for their particular disabilities. Fortunately, some tech companies are working to change that.
From inclusive video game controllers to sensory assist modes in headphones, the world of consumer tech is starting to really care about everyone who uses their devices. Whether users are hearing, visually impaired, or mentally disabled, tech companies are looking for ways to make sure their products are accessible to everyone. Because, what good is technology if you can’t use it to help those who need it?
Take a look at some examples of assistive technology we’ve found from top tech companies below and get ready for a more inclusive future of gadgets.
Comcast Xfinity Eye Detection
The ability to watch television is a privilege that you may not realize. Although it seems to be one of the most relaxing and easy to use technologies on the market, many people with disabilities find it difficult to use even the most basic features of television. From changing channels to recording a show, some users have found themselves without a way to engage, even with the advent of voice assistant technology.
Luckily, Comcast recently added some new features to its Xfinity X1 cable bundle that can help you: eye detection technology. The tablet or laptop compatible software is free and works seamlessly with existing eye gazing hardware and software, so users won’t need to purchase a whole new set of gadgets and devices. ‘devices. The web page remote control will give access to a wide range of features via visual control that could be life changing for disabled users.
“Comcast knows that access to television and the media is an integral part of most people’s lives,” said David Dikter, CEO of the Assistive Technology Industry Association (ATIA). “This X1 can now be used with the gaze and an array of other assistive technologies shows a new level of commitment to access and independence for people with disabilities. A business that understands that users have their own specialized technology and strives to connect those technologies in a way that delivers value deserves applause. “
This example of assistive technology allows people with reduced mobility to change channels, access the guide, record shows and even open specific apps with nothing but eye movements, which is certainly a big inclusive step for a big company like Comcast. But they are not the only ones taking steps to improve the accessibility of technology.
Apple AirPod hearing aid mode
If you think the ability to watch TV is taken for granted, you wouldn’t know how lucky you are to be able to hear. With over 466 million people around the world, the importance of providing easily accessible assistive technology for hearing is undeniable. Fortunately, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of consumer tech is at work.
When Apple launched the AirPods, it wasn’t just a big step forward for wireless headphones, it was also a huge step forward for those who need hearing aids. Apple recently installed the “Live listening”With its new iOS 12 update. This effectively turns your AirPods into hearing aids, amplifying the sound heard through your iPhone into your ears.
It should be noted, however, that AirPods are not licensed hearing aids, and if you have severe hearing loss, talking to a professional is always an important first step.
Apart from the AirPods themselves, Apple has also partnered with a number of accessibility companies to offer Made for iPhone hearing aids that connect easily to your iOS device. It can help users to enjoy seamless listening to music, videos and calls on their iPhone.
Microsoft Xbox Adaptive Controller
The video game trend is not going anywhere, which means inclusiveness has to be a serious priority. Fortunately, one of the biggest game companies in the world recently took a big step in this regard.
Earlier this year, Microsoft used one of its most valuable commercials (a Super Bowl commercial) to highlight the new Xbox Adaptive Controller for people with reduced mobility. Designed to pair with dozens of accessibility-focused devices, the controller caters to an unprecedented number of disabled users. And this is how you make inclusiveness a priority.
“For a very long time, we have advocated for everyone to be able to play video games,” said Craig Kaufman, program director for AbleGamers, a charity that donates controllers to gamers with disabilities, at Polygon. “And seeing Xbox build a device like this shows that, at the highest level, Xbox [is] saying ‘Yeah, everyone should be a part of the great thing about video games.’ ”
To say anything is possible in the gaming world is certainly a cliché, but hey, a 16-year-old just won $ 3 million at the Fortnite World Cup, so we’re going to say it anyway. Bringing the joy and excitement of video games to users who thought they would never get the chance is reason enough to truly tailor accessibility as part of any tech company’s future plans. Well, that and the potential lawsuits.
Why is assistive technology important?
For tech companies, investing in assistive technology shouldn’t just be about “doing good”. Technical support devices can help a large user base – for example, there are over 48 million Americans with some form of reduced mobility.
These assistive technology examples are not only a great way to promote inclusiveness and accessibility in a large tech company, but they are an even better way to prevent accessibility lawsuits from reaching the market. final result. In fact, website accessibility lawsuits – which occur when people with disabilities cannot access a company’s website to, say, apply for a job – almost tripled in 2018. These numbers are expected to increase as the role of technology in everyday life becomes more of a necessity than luxury.
The assistive technology examples are incredible steps towards a more accessible future, but that’s all they are right now: steps. The disability community is always at risk of being left behind when it comes to a wide range of technological innovations.
Inclusiveness and accessibility are great talking points for any large tech company, but it’s rarely enough to turn the tide of business in favor of the millions of people with disabilities around the world. The problem can be solved with a holistic approach to such devices, provided more companies join the movement.
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