Using Adaptive Technology to Foster Inclusivity
Before I started working at Shockoe, I didn’t know anything about requirements regarding accessibility in technology nor had I heard about adaptive technology tools. We primarily focus on building enterprise mobile apps here at Shockoe, and that includes recommending to our clients the best way to make sure their mobile application meets ADA accessibility standards set out by The United States Access Board. The next level of this is a newer trend of using adaptive technology tools or enhancements to help individuals with a disability accomplish a task using technology to assist.
Here at Shockoe, we are starting to figure out a strategy for how to incorporate this into our client’s projects when it makes sense. Considering that according to the CDC website, 26% of adults in the US, so 1 in 4, have some type of disability, this is a prime market to be able to tap into, that could be missing out on some of our client’s projects because they physically cannot interact with them.
These are 2 tools that are now in the marketplace that we’re excited about:
- The Xbox Adaptive Controller – This is a huge step for people with any range of disabilities to be able to interact with their favorite video games, and the best part is that it works with a range of hardware, including switches, joysticks and buttons. It was an innovative and incorporating decision to not only make their own adaptive controller which helps people with limited hand mobility play the Xbox, but then making it so that it allows other assistive devices to also be incorporated really makes this device the definition of inclusive.
- VR Headsets – Such as the Oculus or Google Daydream. These systems are starting to break into the marketplace because of their consumer-friendlier price points and thus becoming more of a consumer reality, vs a tool used by some futuristic hero as part of a plot line in a syfy movie. Some of our clients have started to look into using VR headsets to help train employees more efficiently, which makes sense as it’s a way to immerse people in safe, controlled 360 degree virtual environments, where you can program any number of daily use-cases in to better prepare these employees for their new roles. In this same vein, VR headsets can provide experiences to a population who might otherwise might not be able to enjoy it with their limited mobility, or whatever their disability might be.
I like the future painted by Forbes contributor Denise Brodey, who focuses her writing on the role of disabilities in the workplace. She says “…And the woman looking at her phone in the middle of the parking lot? Don’t yell at her. It’s likely that she is using an app designed to help blind people navigate new spaces independently. As for your website, social media and store displays? Those will already have been tested by someone with a disability before they were installed. Don’t worry about compliance. It will be baked in.” (Source: Forbes)
And when this future soon becomes a reality, we’re planning on being ready to help our clients incorporate the necessary functionality into their mobile apps.
Courtney has been a Project Manager at Shockoe for 3 years and is simply the greatest Project Manager on earth. That is all.