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How Accessible Tech Is Improving All of Our Lives

November 06, 2021

World Usability Day celebrates tech that helps make the world a more accessible and equitable place.


We live in a time when technology has the capacity to improve lives for everyone. Many apps and tools were originally developed for people with disabilities and have evolved for general use.


The Cox Voice remote, which allows all users to easily search for a TV show, movie or app, and the interactive Accessible Web Remote, which can be used on any smartphone or tablet exemplifies this type of universal design.


World Usability Day, observed on Nov. 11, celebrates the ways in which designers and others "can make our world easy for all."


Here's a look at the event and how design is helping to change people's lives for the better:


Improving Connectivity


Since launching in 2005, World Usability Day has challenged people to imagine a world that includes everyone — no matter their race, age, gender, size or ability.


The event has explored usability across multiple themes, including transportation, healthcare, sustainability, communication, education, finance, innovation, inclusion and artificial intelligence (AI).


This year, under the banner, Design Of Our Online World: Trust, Ethics, and Integrity, real world and virtual events will explore how we can improve human-to-human connectivity, while ensuring designs take into account diversity, equity and inclusion.


Events will also consider larger questions, including:


  • How do we create trust in the online environment?
  • What are the ethical implications of our designs?


  • How do we design for accessibility, to ensure that everyone can use our designs?


Making Technology Accessible


Accessible products, apps and interfaces are even more vital in a time when so many of us are connecting virtually for work or social interactions.


Artificial intelligence has helped innovate accessibility technology (which is also sometimes called assistance technology).


For example, a phone app can use text color contrast and other visibility standards to determine whether an assistive reader will be able to scan the text for someone with a disability — and then adjust accordingly.


Accessibility innovations in diversity, accessibility and equity technology have also made great strides.


Developers and designers continue to make sure that facial recognition and voice-enabled devices are inclusive of all skin tones, dialects and speech disorders. Keeping abreast of these types of different user profiles and needs is paramount if technology is to be truly inclusive.


What Does the Future Hold for Accessible Tech?


Looking ahead, accessible tech and universal design could evolve in any number of ways.


Some potential innovations include accessibility features in wearable tech and communication devices (including new types of speech-generation devices). Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) also could play a greater role in education and other fields beyond entertainment.


World Usability Day helps ensure that these developments and more on the horizon will benefit all users.


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