Why Accessibility Is the Future of Tech

Designing solutions for people with disabilities offers a peephole into the future

John Brownlee
Modus
Published in
6 min readSep 4, 2019

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Photo: Melinda Podor/Getty Images

“It’s just the right thing to do.”

Very few people think that those of us who are blind should be exiled from the web altogether, or that people with hearing loss shouldn’t have iPhones. That’s as it should be. But all too often, the importance of accessibility — the catch-all term for designing technology that people with disabilities can use — is framed in terms of charity alone. And that’s a shame because it makes accessibility seem grudging and boring, when the reality is that it’s the most exciting school of design on the planet.

Accessibility is a crystal ball through which we can view the all-encompassing future of tech.

Let’s put it this way: Every time you talk to Siri, or let YouTube caption a video for you, or search for a picture of your dog in Google Photos by typing in “puppy,” you’re using an accessibility feature in everything but name. Every time you switch your iPhone to night mode, dictate an email while you’re driving a car, or ride a hover board, you’re also taking advantage of a technology that was first designed to help people with disabilities.

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John Brownlee
Modus
Writer for

writer, editor, journowhatsit. Design, tech, and health is my beat. Editor-in-chief of Folks (folks.pillpack.com). Ex-Fast Company, Wired, and more.