The technology sector is filled with amazing examples of innovation and collaboration coming together to make the world a better, more accessible place for people with disabilities.
For example, hearing aids empower millions of people to perceive once-unimaginable sounds, and today’s next-generation hearing aids are making that process even more immersive and effective.
At the same time, scientists are developing gloves that translate sign language into speech, enabling a real-time dialogue with people who are not proficient in sign language. Even everyday technologies, like smartphones and video games, are becoming more accessible, proving that tech innovators have the inspiration and capacity to build a more equitable society.
These are just a few of the incredible technological developments enhancing accessibility every day. Tech accessibility is critical to social connection, professional proliferation and civic engagement.
That's why we can't stop now. Here are three ways we can harness those efforts today to build better technology for everyone.
Engage your community
Tech products and services require unique accessibility solutions, and what makes one product more usable for people with disabilities may not apply to another. Therefore, tech companies should engage their community to identify existing accessibility pain points.
For instance, web accessibility, a significant challenge for people with disabilities, includes a cadre of potential solutions, models that tech innovators will need to assess, select and implement.
Not only will community engagement help direct developers’ efforts, but it will help create cohesion between tech platforms and their users, allowing them to continually adapt their products and services to maximize accessibility.
In addition, it will help web developers avoid implementing haphazard or ineffective solutions by engaging the community to determine what’s needed and what works best.
Focus on where you can be most effective -- and set goals
Using the insights from community engagement initiatives, focus your efforts on where you can be most effective. Determine the most pressing accessibility hurdles and establish concrete milestones to measure progress.
For tech innovators looking to make digital assets more accessible, this might include setting internal goals for content creators and developers to make strategic alterations to existing or upcoming digital content.
While the scope and sequence will look different for every company, focusing on where you can be most effective and measuring that progress will help ensure that accessibility goals become a reality.
Commit your resources
Better accessibility is an obvious win-win, empowering more people to participate in digital platforms and services while increasing tech companies' user numbers and engagement levels.
However, it will require an investment to make forward progress, and failing to plan properly can diminish overall outcomes. The back-end ROI is incredible, so consider the upfront investment a down payment on a more engaged, committed and empowered user base.
As digital products change and evolve, accessibility standards and best practices will need to adapt as well. Don’t make accessibility a one-time priority that fails to deliver long-term, sustainable results. Instead, routinely engage your community and beneficiaries.
Technology can make the world a better place, which is best achieved when more people can participate in these platforms and services.