Tech accessibility is lagging. Here's why that needs to change
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Tech accessibility is lagging. Here's why that needs to change

Tech Industry
When you have a disability, your life often moves faster than your body does. This is Zach Anner. He's a comedian, host, and writer, and he recently started doing tech reviews on YouTube. As someone with cerebral palsy, he's making these videos to show just how important tech can be for people with disability. But there are many people with disabilities, who aren't able to use tech that many of us take for granted. I'm Abrar Al Heeti. And we'll be exploring just how accessible apps and modern technology really are, and what can be done to improve them. [MUSIC] Just about every element of our lives, takes place on. Online now from where we shop to what we watch to how we communicate. But for people with disabilities these everyday tasks can be especially difficult when platforms and services aren't designed with their needs in mind. Accessibility isn't always top of mind for developers or engineers, which is why it's often overlooked. Twitter recently faced backlash when it launched its boys tweets feature. People in the disability community were quick to point out that it didn't have closed captioning. So people who are deaf or hard of hearing couldn't use it. Twitter later said it would add transcriptions, but that was only after people called it out. When you're thinking about, introducing like a new product category of feature. Let's just get the feedback from the disability community first, and not an afterthought. People with disabilities often worry about whether they'll be able to use new devices and features. When the first iPhone came out in 2007, its functions weren't fully accessible to everyone, including people who are blind. It wasn't until the iPhone 3gs came out two years later that Apple introduced voiceover, a screen reading technology that's part of iOS. Now people who are blind can more easily check their calendars, send emails and follow maps. Email body, multi line text field. Google has also been working to make its products more accessible. Some of the apps it's recently launched include sound amplifier and live transcribe, which help people who are deaf or hard of hearing follow a conversation. There's also the lookout app, which helps people who are blind or visually impaired to use their phone's camera to read food labels. Find objects around a room or scan documents and money on many caramel almond and sea salt minus 0.7 ounce. Wearables like smartwatches are also incorporating accessibility. Google recently launched a feature called sound notifications, which alerts people with hearing loss about critical household sounds like dogs barking appliances beeping or water running. Still, many companies haven't put as much effort into making their products and services more inclusive. Overlooking accessible design from the start shuts millions of people out. To me Tech is the most exciting area because there's so, So much that you can do around accessibility to create universal access for people. Tatyana Lee is an actress, model and activist with spinal bifida, meaning her spine and spinal cord didn't form properly at birth. She says when she was born a hospital and doctors asked her mom if she wanted to institutionalize her Thankfully her mom said no, but many other parents took that option. Where we need to get to is this idea of people with disabilities being a part of a social model. And the social model is, there's nothing wrong with people with disabilities. The problem is the lack of accessibility and access, That is a burden on the person with a disability to be able to fully live out their lives. Americans with disabilities are nearly three times as likely to never go online. They're also around 20% less likely to subscribe to home broadband and own a computer, smartphone or tablet. A whopping 98% of us websites aren't fully accessible. [MUSIC] And you may be thinking, if so many Americans are being left out. Why haven't lawmakers tackled the issue. Well, its a bit more complicated than just passing legislation. [MUSIC] When the Americans with disabilities act, was passed in 1990, it helped make physical spaces more accessible by requiring accommodations. Like wheelchair ramps and elevators, but it hasn't been as effective at making digital spaces more accessible. Because, so much has changed since the law was passed. 30 years ago we didn't have smartphones or widespread access to computers. We didn't rely on the internet to handle everyday tasks the way we do now. Digital accessibility compliance just hasn't kept up with the times. We think about other laws that have been put into place back some years ago, That has literally allowed society to put people with disabilities into institutions. And so because of that, people aren't thinking about us. They aren't thinking about us as consumers. They aren't thinking about us as positive representation because to them, we need to be eliminated. Web accessibility became a hot topic after Domino's Pizza asked the Supreme Court to review a case involving a blind customer. Guillermo Robles sued the restaurant in 2016. After he wasn't able to order a custom Domino's Pizza online, even with screen reading technology. The appeals court and the Ninth Circuit sided with Robles. Ruling the ADA does in fact apply to apps and websites of businesses with physical locations. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case in 2019, meaning the lower court's decision stands. So while the courts have ruled that the internet is covered under the ADA. It's typically up to us to report any issues. Experts say there isn't enough accountability at higher levels to make sure digital information from federal departments and agencies is fully accessible. This includes information On important processes like voter registration, or COVID-19 data accessibility challenges have also forced streaming apps like Netflix and Hulu to rethink how they show content in 2016 and 2017. After being called out by the American Council of the Blind, Netflix and Hulu said they would add audio description so that blind and visually impaired people can better understand what's happening in a show or movie. Both companies also said they would make their sites and apps accessible through screen readers. Thankfully, more organizations are stepping up to promote digital accessibility. There's actually an entire event dedicated to this in May called Global Accessibility Awareness Day. The internet has also opened the door for people to share their thoughts, struggles and experiences through blogs and social media just like Zach does on YouTube. This shows just how important it is to make sure these platforms are fully accessible to everyone. What most people would consider a convenience becomes actually kind of life-changing for someone like me. It makes it so I can spend less time on logistics and more time just living my life. [MUSIC]

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