#GlobalAccessibilityAwarenessDay, #GAAD, #Apple, #TimCook; #EveryoneCanCode; #invertedcolorsoniPhone; #SarahHerrlinger; #accessibilityoptions; #Google; #Samsung; #Amazon; #Alexavoiceassistant; #JohnMRafferty; #HomePodsmartspeaker; #KristyDuncan; #trulyinclusiveandaccessibleCanada; #CanadianNationalInstitutefortheBlind; #CNIB; #Aira; #BlindSquare, #Key2Acees
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) which started in 2015, is being observed today all over the world, and focuses on making technology more usable for people with disabilities, media reports said.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day logo
On this day many technology companies highlight their contribution to people with disabilities.
Apple has been aggressive in getting its Swift programming language into more hands, including programs such as Swift Playgrounds for children.
On Thursday, Apple said that the blind and deaf communities across the US will be able to access a specially designed curriculum called Everyone Can Code for Swift in schools.
"Apple's mission is to make products as accessible as possible," Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement. "We hope to bring Everyone Can Code to even more schools around the world serving students with disabilities."
The company worked with engineers, educators and programmers from different accessibility communities to ensure Everyone Can Code is as applicable to as many people as possible.
Apple was already out in front of GAAD, talking about its accessibility work on Monday.
Apple's creation of inverted colors on its iPhone screen for the visually impaired also proved useful for low-light reading before bedtime.
"Every year we try to add in new things. We do look at how can we make it slightly better year over year," Sarah Herrlinger, Apple's director of global accessibility policy and initiatives, said about the company's work on its iOS and MacOS operating systems.
Other tech companies have been working to build up their accessibility options, too.
Google added a variety of features to Android, including voice commands and display settings to make the screen easier to read.
Samsung created several similar controls. And Amazon provides a handful of ways for people to use its Alexa voice assistant.
Herrlinger discussed a handful of Apple's efforts around accessibility, starting with the iPhone, where the tech giant has added a long list of specialized controls, including text-to-speech that can read your emails or a grocery list, and Bluetooth pairing with hearing aids and cochlear implants.
In the kitchen, a visually impaired person can use their iPhone to find specific spices by using a camera app to read their barcodes.
They can also use a HomePod smart speaker to turn on small appliances via voice.
Kristy Duncan, Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, in a statement on GAAD said,
"One of the Government of Canada's priorities to create a truly inclusive and accessible Canada—where all Canadians have an equal opportunity to succeed, have the same rights and obligations, and are equal participants in their communities and workplaces. Technology and internet are essential in day-to-day life. As such, we need to make sure that people with disabilities can fully participate in the online world.
Image: Kristy Duncan. Image credit: Twitter handle
"Although technology can unlock great potential for many who live with disabilities, it is only useful if people with disabilities have access to it. Some of the tools developed to help people with disabilities use computers such as screen readers, assistive mobile applications and alternative keyboards, are truly life changing. However, the reality is that a digital divide still exists and we need to bridge that gap. We need to ensure these tools are available to those who need them and that technology is designed so that it is accessible from the start.
"Whether you are part of the design, development, usability, or related industries who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use, or you want to learn more about how you can support this initiative, join the conversation on social media by using #GAAD or visit the Global Accessibility Awareness Day webpage.
Our country is at its best when everyone is included. Let's unlock the potential in everyone."
To mark GAAD, Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB), a non profit organization which would complete 100 years in 2018, announcied a bold ambition driven to change what it is to be blind today, is unleashing powerful technologies across Canada to make it more inclusive and accessible in the process.
"Devices small enough to fit in the palm of your hand are empowering people who are blind to explore and engage in their communities like never before," said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO, CNIB. "We need to be at the forefront of providing and advocating for these incredible tools."
To launch this ambition, CNIB reportedly announced partnerships with three innovators in the accessible technology space namely Aira, BlindSquare, Key2Acees.
Through these partnerships, CNIB will play an active role in connecting governments, businesses and public institutions with these innovative technologies to improve accessibility for blind citizens. Such relationships will be a key focus for CNIB going forward, along with other technology initiatives that signal a bold, new approach.
"This is just the beginning of what's to come," said Len Baker, Vice-President, Partnerships and Innovation, CNIB. "We look forward to partnering with other companies and groups working on barrier-smashing technologies. They are transforming the world for people with sight loss, and we want to make sure Canadians benefit."