Accessibility within technology and particularly computing used to be seen as something bolted on. When it came to the internet, it used to be mainly focused on the needs of people with visual impairments. But things are changing and accessibility is now becoming a natural part of how technology and software is being designed.
In terms of technology, accessibility can be regarded has making something easier to use for everyone, since if you make something easier to someone with a specific impairment, you are making it easier for everyone else. For various reasons for people with a wide range of difficulties, each unnecessary click or keystroke is a barrier to using software which designers are now starting to consider.
We are also entering a silent revolution in what technology can allow us to do with ease. Personal assistants like Siri, Cortana, Alexa and Google Voice are still in their infancy in terms of how they can change how we interact with technology, not just computers and tablets, but also many other household devices in a way we can only imagine. Where ‘environment control’ used to be something very specialist reserved for people for very significant impairments, ‘internet of things’ is slowly revolutionising how we interact with every day devices. I already have a video door-bell that shows me who is at my front door, as well as automatically recording any movement at the door.
There are now apps for absolutely everything you can think off, again gradually changing our habits with clever little features. There are translation apps that enables users to take photos and translate the words in the picture into any language, other apps can translate speech from one language into another. I personally find this useful in assisting me to ask my Colombian Volunteers to do things like cook me food from recipes or simply reading the back of the packet.
Since I started using computers in 1981, I have never stopped being amazed to how improvements in technology as enabled me to do more things, as well as enabling me to be included in society as an equal member who as able to contribute as much, if not more, than others. And the revolution continues as accessibility in technology becomes the new norm.