About 61 million adults in the U.S. live with some form of disability or physical impairment. In this new decade, physical impairment shouldn’t impair anyone from conducting business activities. Thanks to technological innovation, it’s now business as usual for persons with disabilities.
New technology, like voice recognition and artificial intelligence, have allowed people living with disability to do business effortlessly as any other person would.
The technology that allows for such is known as accessibility technology or technology for accessibility.
In this post, we’ll highlight all the latest technology accessibility trends that everyone in business should know about.
- Keyboard Accessibility
Starting with the simplest one, keyboard accessibility is a vital component of web and business accessibility. Users that have motor and visual disabilities may find it hard to use the keyboard as an ordinary person would. They, however, must use the keyboard to type and navigate documents and use the internet.
For keyboard accessibility you can settle on the following:
Intellikeys allows for custom keyboard layouts that you can later print out. It’s a flat touchscreen device that you can change the key placement and even the number of keys you want on the board. It’s best for people with motor disabilities or cognitive complications.
This is a color-coded keyboard that allows easy use for people with visual impairments or cognitive disabilities.
These are just a few examples of keyboard accessibility technology. Several more keyboard accessible technologies cater to different physical impairments.
- Speech Recognition
Speech recognition has been around for quite a while but is now more accurate and responsive than ever. Speech recognition utilizes special software to learn and recognize the user’s voice. The user can then issue commands to the device using only their voice.
It has been invaluable to people with dyslexia and who need to jot down ideas or notes quickly. It also allows for people with motor disabilities to issue commands to their devices without physical interaction.
Here are a few areas where speech recognition has been of great use.
Smart Home Devices
Smart home devices have been a hit with persons living with disabilities. Accurate speech recognition is at the core of all smart home devices. With smart home devices like Alexa and Google home, you can operate almost all devices at home using just your voice.
Voice-Powered Web Pages
These days, you can interact with web pages using only your voice. Many websites are slowly embracing voice-controlled web pages to accommodate people living with disabilities.
- Multi-Line Braille Display
For decades, braille has been a staple for people with blindness or visual impairments. The braille that most people are familiar with is the single-line braille. The single-line braille works perfectly, except it limits the amount of information that can be communicated to the user at any given instant.
Recently, a company in the UK came up with the first-ever multi-line braille machine called the Canule, and it works like a charm. This multi-line braille display can show up to nine lines that can accommodate 90 characters per line. That means that it can display a total of 360 characters at any given instant.
This ground-breaking technology has enabled folks with visual impairments to work in the most complex fields like engineering and manufacturing. It’s a huge leap from other braille devices that can only display about 12 to 90 characters.
However, the best part about the canule is that it’s readily available and affordable to people from across the world.
- Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning
Artificial intelligence and machine learning have seen broad applications in many industries across the country. It has also been pivotal in ensuring the accessibility of people with disabilities in the said industries.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning go hand-in-hand. The former is a branch of AI that centers on the developments of machines and systems that can learn from experience without needing any form of explicit programming.
Both AI and machine learning have been crucial in the development of lots of technologies for accessibility. Most notable, perhaps, is the development of assistive robots used mostly by people with upper body disabilities. This has helped them gain some degree of autonomy in their daily lives.
However, assistive robots aren’t limited to people with upper body disabilities only. To learn more about assistive and collaborative robots, you can check out this blog post.
- 3D Printing
3D printing has enabled us to create and recreate anything we can imagine effortlessly. It has helped people with visual disabilities understand a substance by feeling it. This has bolstered the education of people with visual disabilities and allowed them into more complicated fields of study.
For instance, you don’t need to explain the anatomy of a frog to anyone with visual disabilities and let them imagine it. Instead, you can just 3D print a frog and let the student feel the various part to understand its anatomy.
Not long ago, 3D printers were large and bulky contraptions that only large institutions and companies could afford. Nowadays, we have 3D printers that are much smaller and very affordable.
Innovation for Improved Technology for Accessibility
In this age, physical impairment should not stop you from engaging in business affairs. Thanks to technology for accessibility, it’s business as usual, even for persons with disabilities. Plus, with constant improvement in these technologies, almost every business will be able to afford such technology.
Technology is just one of the major subjects we discuss on the site. For more informative reads, make sure you check out the other pieces on health, business among others.