Advancements in technology have opened up a realm of possibilities that were once unimaginable. While these new possibilities might to many relate to things like AI, smart cars, and drones, there is a peculiar field that most benefits from these advancements. Through innovative solutions, we now have the ability to provide unique support and opportunities for people with disabilities. We have broken down barriers, offering assistive devices, adaptive tools, and inclusive platforms that enhance accessibility like never before.
Today is Global Accessibility Awareness Day.
The purpose of this day is to get everyone talking, thinking and learning about digital access and inclusion. What can you do to make the digital world more accessible? pic.twitter.com/QeQHYO3jlD
— Moodle | moodle.com (@moodle) May 18, 2023
As such, the Global Accessibility Awareness Day is an annual event where tech giants and smaller companies alike come together to announce their work in the field of accessibility and raise awareness about how much more is there still to do. This year’s event was marked with big appearances and announcements, so let’s take a look at what went down.
Apple will introduce new accessibility features later this year, including Assistive Access, Live Speech, and Point and Speak. These features aim to enhance cognitive, speech, and vision accessibility for users. Assistive Access simplifies app interfaces for people with cognitive disabilities. Live Speech allows nonspeaking users to type what they want to say and have it spoken out loud in calls. It can also create a synthesizer voice for those at risk of losing their speaking ability.
Point and Speak helps individuals with visual impairments interact with physical objects by describing them out loud after being pointed to by a finger within the camera. While these specific features will come out later this year and were only previewed, Apple has also launched minor initiatives concurrently with Global Accessibility Awareness Day. Examples are releasing audiobooks and shows regarding the history of people with disabilities.
Google celebrated Global Accessibility Awareness Day by talking about new and recently introduced features for improving digital access and inclusion. Lookout, a tool designed for the blind and low-vision community, now offers an “image question and answer” feature that uses AI to provide descriptions of images. Google Maps now displays wheelchair accessibility information, including step-free entrances and additional details, about wheelchair-accessible facilities.
What can brands do to make their marketing and user experiences more accessible and disability inclusive?
On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, get inspired by Procter & Gamble, Just Eat Takeaway, L’Oréal, and Booking .com → https://t.co/yrUBaA5lVC #GAAD pic.twitter.com/iCy7Szvr0J
— Think with Google UK (@ThinkGoogleUK) May 18, 2023
Live Caption, which provides real-time captions for audio on Android devices, is expanding to more devices and languages. Future updates include accessibility improvements to Wear OS and Chrome, such as URL typo detection and enhanced tab management.
The event was also marked with plenty of gaming-related innovations. Among others, Epic Games announced the inclusion of items raising awareness in Fortnite. Meanwhile, PlayStation provided a new look at their inclusive controller. Various developers held roundtables and discussions on the topic of how they incorporate these kinds of features in their games, including Marvel Games, Ubisoft, and Xbox.
To mark Global Accessibility Awareness Day, here’s your first look at new images of the Access controller for PS5, formerly Project Leonardo: https://t.co/4jJopxeHSh pic.twitter.com/bZWQlZIlDl
— PlayStation (@PlayStation) May 18, 2023
Global Accessibility Awareness Day serves as a powerful reminder of the significant advancements made in the field of accessibility. Tech giants like Apple and Google, alongside gaming companies, have demonstrated their commitment to creating inclusive experiences for individuals with disabilities. I am personally looking forward to seeing how technology can help these people in the following years and what innovations will be announced at next year’s event. The 2023 edition ends on a good note, full of inspiration and hope for a brighter future.
Photo credit: The feature image is symbolic and has been done by Marcus Aurelius.
Sources: Apple / Google / Epic Games