Why Accessibility Is the Future of Tech
Designing solutions for people with disabilities offers a peephole into the future
“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.
Accessibility isn’t just the “right” thing to do; it’s also critical right now to the day-to-day computing of every person on Earth. But even that understates the reality, which is that accessibility is probably the most important and exciting frontier in design right now. Far from being something that designers pursue grudgingly, it should be viewed as what it is: a crystal ball through which we can view the all-encompassing future of tech.
Here are three reasons why accessibility should excite everyone:
You’re disabled but you don’t know it yet
Let’s start with the elephant in the room: You might think that you’re not living with a disability so accessibility shouldn’t matter to you. But you are living with a disability, you just don’t know it yet.
According to the CDC, one in every four Americans is living with a disability, which maths out to over two billion…