Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo And Others Push For Accessibility Development

Facebook, Microsoft, Yahoo And Others Push For Accessibility Development

New group aims to make tech more inclusive for people with disabilities.

For all their rhetoric and idealism about changing the world, consumer-facing technologies have largely failed at least one major set of users: people with disabilities, a segment that represents roughly 1 in 5 people in the U.S.

As the 25th anniversary of the Americans with Disability Act (ADA) approaches, a new group has formed to champion the cause of development for accessibility. Several educators and tech companies have joined forces in an effort dubbed Teaching Accessibility.

According to its website, the group aims to address the “lack of awareness and understanding of basic accessibility issues, concepts and best practices.” Key participants include Carnegie Mellon and Stanford, as well as Adobe, AT&T, Dropbox, Facebook, Intuit, LinkedIn, Microsoft and Yahoo.

Of course, some of these companies may have some self-serving interest in pursuing this initiative—to boost their image, prepare for the possible expansion of ADA legislation to online services, or another reason. But that doesn’t negate the need to make accessibility a bigger priority. Not only have recent advances made this much more viable, but it’s long overdue.

Who’s Being Left Out? A Lot Of People

The Teaching Accessibility website acknowledges that technology’s support for people with disabilities has improved, but it hasn’t yet become a fundamental priority. “While there has been progress in a variety of applications, standards and regulations,” the site reads, “accessibility is still not systemic in the development of new and emerging technologies.”

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