Disability is something that impacts the lives of millions round the globe, whether it be something present from birth or from events later in life. Technology has undoubtedly done a lot to help those living with disability to enjoy a greater level of engagement and independence, but TechCrunch asserts that accessible tech still has a long way to go. In order for the digital society to truly be equal, changes must be made. Looking at physical requirements is a good place for tech companies to start – and new innovation shows headway in this area.
61 million adults in the USA live with a physical disability, according to the CDC. Physical disabilities present a wide range of complex needs that aren’t necessarily met purely through physiotherapy; as cerebral palsy advocates CPFN highlight, a disability that presents as physical can benefit from a wider range of adaptations, including cognitive. Wheelchairs and eye-controlled systems are a good example of this, and innovation is now moving into the day-to-day services used across the country to help further; the WE Forum highlights the inclusion of sophisticated tech and supportive tools in ride-hailing apps.
The key with disability is in accepting variance. No one disability is the same, and no one person will experience things in exactly the same way as another. Having a fine-tuned approach to disability-inclusive tech, as promoted by Microsoft, is the key in ensuring that future tech is fit for purpose when it comes to helping those living with disability in accessing digital society. Only having this bespoke approach to assistive technology will create truly equal outcomes.
This sort of innovation is not far away. A BMJ Journal highlighting the research of Sara Hendren, a design researcher involved in assistive technology, noted several crucial adaptations that had helped research subjects to enjoy a greater level of personal independence than perhaps ever before. As assistive technologies and development tech becomes more sophisticated and affordable, technologists and providers of services must look to provide bespoke-level tech for everybody who needs it, and to be willing to make fine adjustments and innovations for the wider market.
Helping everyone impacted by disability, from children to adults, is a moral imperative for a truly inclusive digital society. Achieving that is a matter of effort and determination from those with their hands on the tools of innovation.