The year 2016 saw an increase in focus on accessibility features to allow people with disabilities to access technology. The Microsoft Event that saw the launch of the Surface Studio on October 26, and the Apple event a day later on October 27 which saw the launch of the new Macbook Pro laptops, both opened with a video showcasing the efforts by the two companies at making their products more universally accessible. Earlier in the year, during the Facebook F8 conference, Facebook demonstrated a a new API with features for making user interfaces built using the React library more accessible to visually impaired users.
For the visually impaired, touchscreens are scary because they are devices where all controls defer to the screen. Nirmita Narasimhan, a Policy Director at The Centre for Internet and Society (CIS) in Bengaluru has contributed to policy decisions by the Indian Government to help the visually impaired better use technology. One of these measures was allowing the blind to convert ebooks to any format that would allow them to read it. Narasimhan believes that accessibility to new technologies can improve greatly for the visually impaired if major app distributors such as Apple and Google take efforts to make sure the same application works for blind users as well.
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A 2011 survey by the Pew Research Center found that 2%, or 4.7 million American adults, said they suffered from a disability or illness that made it difficult or impossible for them to use the internet.
For a growing number of companies, that inaccessibility comes at a cost. The US Department of Justice (DOJ), citing the Americans with Disabilities Act, has sued and negotiated millions of dollars in settlements with big brands such as Target, Disney and Netflix, for not designing their websites to accommodate the browsing needs of disabled customers.
Yet last month, the DOJ once again delayed a plan to issue regulations spelling out the criteria necessary for websites to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. It had previously planned to issue the rules in June of this year, but it then postponed the date to April 2016. It now expects to release the regulations in 2018.
Websites designed to be disability friendly typically include features such as accurate auto-translation, better speech recognition, enhanced search engine optimization and browser zoom. Many of these features also improve the internet experience for other users. Text transcripts and video captioning are a must for the deaf, but are also widely used by the hearing: 80% of TV viewers use closed captioning for reasons other than hearing loss, according to a recent UK study.
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Read full article at Source: The high cost of digital discrimination: why companies should care about web accessibility | Guardian Sustainable Business | The Guardian