All good technology should be assistive – Neil Milliken

LATEST CAPTURATALK IMAGE TO USEAll good technology should be assistive. Comment by Neil Milliken, Head of Service and Mobile Development at iansyst.

“Whenever I ask people what they understand by the term assistive technology, I am almost always met with the same response; ‘technology for disabled people’. Historically, this is the correct interpretation, however, in reality; all good technology should be assistive, or in other words, help people be more productive and get more out of life. The application of assistive technology should really be about taking a piece of software or hardware and incorporating carefully selected features to help increase the productivity and learning of a group of people by making hard things easy and the previously impossible possible. Technology should remove barriers not create them. Dragon’s speech-recognition software for example, was not originally created with disabilities in mind, but now it provides people with dyslexia with the opportunity to express themselves in writing which they would have struggled to do previously.“

 “It is vital that people have a better understanding of the benefits assistive technologies can bring to their learning and productivity. Learning disabilities are often a magnification of difficulties everyone experiences, Microsoft commissioned some research a couple of years back that suggested that 60% of the US population could benefit from the use of assistive technology.. Everyone has issues remembering things from time to time, granted, not to the same degree as a dyslexic person, however, having tasks and reminders that can be read out to you on your mobile phone for example, could be beneficial to all. The visually impaired may find it difficult to read small text on a web site and use software to enlarge the text and change background colours. How many times has everyone experienced similar issues trying to navigate a badly designed web site or online document? Accessibility standards don’t necessarily make for pretty websites but they do make for functional ones.”

 “All good technology should be assistive, enabling anyone, regardless of a learning disability to use it, and more importantly, benefit from doing something they could not achieve, or doing it better or more easily. There is already some great work being done to achieve this, for example, companies such as Apple and Microsoft which have included basic accessibility features that can be customised to an individual’s preferred setting. There is however, much more that needs to be done by software and hardware vendors to ensure that technology is truly accessible. Our Government is yet to follow in the footsteps of the USA to implement integration and accessibility standards for web sites.  This would see the integration of certain tools and the compatibility of content with other assistive technologies to ensure disabled people have equal access to online information, which sadly is not currently the case in the UK.“

About the author

Comments are closed.

Powered by WordPress | Two Thirds Design