Accessibility

Breaching Barriers with Inclusive Tech

Overview From advanced screen readers for braille displays to adaptive devices for gaming, the world’s top brands are making technology more accessible. Today, devices and services are being designed to better accommodate users’ eyesight, hearing, age, mobility status and other challenges. In this way, companies ranging from startups to global brands such as Microsoft and Google are working to fully open the tech marketplace to people with disabilities. Here’s a look at what they’re doing.

Never satisfied with the status quo, technology innovators continue to deliver solutions to problems considered insurmountable just 50 years ago. They’ve helped to open online resources and entertainment to people with vision or hearing impairments. They’ve fostered communities for creating solutions that have led to more inclusive user experiences online. More of us are now better connected, informed and equipped to compete competitively in the job market.
 
The Consumer Technology Association (CTA)® Foundation is marking its tenth year working to benefit seniors and people with disabilities. In collaboration with partners and sponsors including AARP, Verizon, Amazon, IBM, Intel, Voxx, Samsung and LG, the foundation’s leadership and grants help ensure successful programs. Foundation grants and awards work to fight social isolation for older adults and people with disabilities via the John and Jane Shalam Award. Funding has helped those with hearing loss and has supported tech education for low-income communities while advancing access to telehealth and a wide range of online communities. Check out innovative solutions across the show floor at CES® 2023, and especially at Eureka Park, CES’ home for startups.
 
In the meantime, learn more about CES 2023 exhibitors including Microsoft and Google. These tech titans continue to innovate in important ways that dramatically improve lives through technology.  
 

Microsoft

Fueled by a mission to empower every person and organization to excel, Microsoft has made a five-year commitment to bridge the gap in education, employment and access to technology for people with disabilities. The company also announced this spring a new and expanded Inclusive Tech Lab. This highly modular facility is built to enable visitor participation, physically and virtually, in projects for creating new accessibility products and services intended for use in homes, workplaces and schools. The lab has already produced several new products. One, the Xbox Adaptive Controller, is designed to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility. Another, the Surface Adaptive Kit includes a high-contrast, tactile keyboard and port labels for users with low vision in addition to simple tools that help users with mobility impairments open and close the device.
 
As Microsoft points out in a May blog post, the lab “is designed to demonstrate what is possible when you intentionally and proactively include people with disabilities in the product-making process…The Inclusive Tech Lab is intended to be an embassy for people with disabilities, not a space about them.” Microsoft has hosted more than 8,000 visitors, including them in tours, collaborative workshops and inclusive design sprints. The lab is built and laid out so that people with disabilities can fully explore assistive and adaptive technologies, inclusively designed products and sensory experiences.
 

Google

Google is advancing its mission to make technology more accessible with, among other products, a completely new Talkback screen reader in beta for the Android 13. Google announced in a May blog post that is testing out-of-the-box support for most braille displays. The Talkback update will eliminate additional downloads for using most braille displays. These displays allow people with vision impairments to navigate device screens using touch in order to compose email, make a phone call, send a text message or read a book.
 
Google also announced new shortcuts for Talkback. For easier navigating, shortcuts allow users to quickly move across characters, words or lines. Shortcuts also let users more easily edit using copy and paste tools and similar.
 
Are you breaking ground with technologies that enhance the lives of people with physical, age-related or neurological challenges? Get recognized. Enter the CTA Foundation’s Eureka Park Accessibility contest. For past winners, the award has led to clinical trial opportunities, investment interest and coverage by top media outlets. Find out how you can qualify and be considered
 

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