Imagine a time, hopefully sometime in the not too distant future, where you never have to ask if a new piece of technology was accessible. A time where user interfaces, weather digital or physical, were always designed to be used by everyone. Some may argue that, that sort of universal accessibility is simply unachievable or impractical, but there’s no denying that, thanks to legislation and consumer pressure, accessibility is now something that every technology company has to think about when designing a product. But the truth is, there’s already been a time where we never had to ask that question. We don’t have to go too far back in time, where asking if a new device was accessible simply wasn’t necessary. The answer was always the same…
“No”, or even worse, “What’s accessibility?”
For anyone who had a disability there was only really one way to go. Specialized tech. Technology specifically designed to be used by someone who was blind, deaf, had a cognitive or motor impairment etc. Devices such as braille displays, CCTV, text-phones, hardware speech synths, embossers, blow switches, special keyboards etc played, and indeed still play, a massive part in enabling people with a disability to fulfil their potential or just make everyday tasks easier. But thankfully times have changed and as mainstream devices become more and more accessible, just what will happen to this still much needed, but admittedly, comparatively small sector of the technology sector?
In the audio below, Steven Scott, Tim Schwartz & Shelly Brisbin discuss the thorny question of just what is the future for specialized technology. There’s absolutely no question that it is still needed but with it’s usually high price tag and small market share, can these companies remain viable as accessibility becomes more mainstream?
Listen to the Audio Below:
Co-host & audio producer on the Double Tap Canada radio show. Occasional contributor to Double Tap TV, full time shed resident.