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When disability tech is just a marketing exercise | The Outline
"This cycle is a common one. Companies know that accessibility projects can garner great press. They also probably know that many journalists are unlikely to follow up and see whether the big promises are actually coming true. So they flaunt their minimal or nonexistent ties to accessibility, reap the glowing media coverage, and let the projects slip quietly into the night.

BMW got great press for making four special chairs for the Paralympics, but it seems to have stopped at those four. The Dot, a braille smartwatch, is a darling among journalists who call it the “first smartwatch for the blind,” but all it does is display some text from your phone in braille. Apple’s smartwatch is actually far more useful for blind users. Companies also advertise products as being accessible, but these claims are rarely put to the test.

Google is a repeat offender when it comes to claiming accessibility brownie points while failing to provide truly accessible tech, said Kit Englard, an assistive technology specialist. “If you read anything from Google it says: Google is accessible, it works with screen readers. Eh, it doesn’t really,” she says. Google Docs and Google Drive are both notoriously hard to use with a screen reader (a system, usually incorporating audio, that blind and low-vision people use to access visual content). “The way to force a screen reader to work with Google Docs, you have to go into your screen reader, turn it off in some ways, and then go back into Google Doc,” Englard said. “You have to memorize a whole series of commands that are completely different from any other commands you’d be used to.”

Vaporware — the term for products and features touted to the press that never materialize — is endemic in tech. When that non-existent product is a smartwatch or a sex robot, the harm is minimal. But when companies claim they are building products for people with disabilities and then don’t, Englard says that does real damage. More and more big companies are adopting systems like Google Drive, thinking that they are accessible, when in fact they’re not, which could lock disabled people out of jobs and promotions. “When they ask ‘is our equipment accessible to you?’ and the answer is no, that person can’t have that job. It’s not okay to lock people out of educational opportunities or social engagements or research,” Englard said. “Think of how many surveys are done on Google Docs these days.”"
disabilities  disability  edtech  marketing  google  googledocs  googledrive  2017  roseeveleth  wheelchairs  deankamen  segwy  ibot  toyota  bmw  vaporare 
december 2017 by robertogreco
How to Grow a Forest Really, Really Fast — TED Fellows — Medium
"A forest planted by humans, then left to nature’s own devices, typically takes at least 100 years to mature. What if we could make the process happen ten times faster? Eco-entrepreneur Shubhendu Sharma’s figured out a way of growing native, self-sustaining forests anywhere in the world, with the efficiency of industrial processes. He tells us how.

*****

Back in 2008, I was an industrial engineer at Toyota in India, helping prepare assembly lines and dispatch systems for car manufacture. One day, a scientist named Akira Miyawaki came to the factory to plant a forest on Toyota’s campus. He gave a presentation on his methods, and I became so fascinated that I decided I wanted to learn how to plant a forest myself.

Miyawaki is quite famous, and very old; he’s now 87. He has planted around 40 million trees all over the world, and in 2006, he won the Blue Planet Prize, the equivalent to the Nobel Prize in the environmental field. His method’s based on what’s called “potential natural vegetation”— a theory that if a piece of land is free from human intervention, a forest will naturally self-seed and take over that land within a period of around 600 to 1,000 years, with the species that would be native and robust, and that would require no maintenance. Miyawaki’s methodology amplifies that growth process to establish a mature, native forest in ten years — ten times the normal rate of forests planted by humans.

Intrigued, I volunteered with Miyawaki and studied his methodologies, and then planted a forest of 300 trees of 42 species in a 93-square-meter plot in my back garden. It was such a success that I decided to quit the car industry to start Afforestt, a for-profit company devoted to planting native forests for all kinds of clients, from farmers to corporations to city governments.

Here’s how it works. It takes six steps.

1. First, you start with soil. We identify what nutrition the soil lacks.

2. Then we identify what species we should be growing in this soil, depending on climate.

3. We then identify locally abundant biomass available in that region to give the soil whatever nourishment it needs. This is typically an agricultural or industrial byproduct — like chicken manure or press mud, a byproduct of sugar production — but it can be almost anything. We’ve made a rule that it must come from within 50 kilometers of the site, which means we have to be flexible.

4. Once we’ve amended the soil to a depth of one meter, we plant saplings that are up to 80 centimeters high, packing them in very densely — three to five saplings per square meter.

5. The forest itself must cover a 100-square-meter minimum area. This grows into a forest so dense that after eight months, sunlight can’t reach the ground. At this point, every drop of rain that falls is conserved, and every leaf that falls is converted into humus. The more the forest grows, the more it generates nutrients for itself, accelerating further growth. This density also means that individual trees begin competing for sunlight — another reason these forests grow so fast.

6. The forest needs to be watered and weeded for the first two or three years, at which point it becomes self-sustaining. After that, it’s best to disturb the forest as little as possible to allow its ecosystem, including animals, to become established."

[via: https://twitter.com/Threadbare/status/590778628419485698 ]
trees  forests  agriculture  environment  2015  plants  kareneng  shubhendusharma  rewilding  afforestation  geoengineering  afforestt  akiramiyawaki  india  toyota 
april 2015 by robertogreco
Backseat Driver, Realtime iPhone Driving App For Children by ToyToyota
"ToyToyota, Toyota Motor Corporation’s new kid-friendly offshoot project, has them driving early, at least from the backseat, with the recently released the iPhone app Backseat Driver. In this app, the GPS functionality of the iPhone is used to mirror the route of the real car (Papa Car) that the child is riding in and allows them to steer and pick up objects in their car (Mama Car) for points. Virtual car customization is allowed as is the sharing of designs and scores via Twitter.

First offered in Japan, ToyToyota has created an English language version of their marketing video and website. The app is also now usable on U.S. roads."
iphone  ios  applications  toyota  children  games  gps  toytoyota  backseatdriver 
july 2011 by robertogreco
Edge 279 - THE END OF UNIVERSAL RATIONALITY
""Who knows what the situation is now, but as of the numbers last year, it continued to be one of the three most productive plants in the U.S. Same people, same industry, very different organizational structure built a lot less on hierarchy, a lot less on precise specification of exactly what everybody needs to do. Much more on teamwork, much more on supporting normative commitment to innovation, to process innovation. And still relatively very constrained. It is the automobile industry.

"We're not talking about high-tech industries. But there you have a very different orientation in terms of setting up the motivation and relationships among workers, between workers and management. You move from having 70 process engineers on the floor telling each employee exactly what to do, to having none. And having the teams have a lot of autonomy on how they do things."

[via: http://blog.wired.com/sterling/2009/04/yochai-benkler.html ]
hierarchy  autoindustry  yochaibenkler  psychology  rationality  economics  publishing  journalism  wikipedia  administration  management  leadership  toyota  gm 
april 2009 by robertogreco
Do-It-Yourself Logos for Proud Scion Owners - New York Times
"personalized crests, Scion owners can choose from among hundreds of symbols...download their designs & have them made into window decals or take them to an auto airbrushing shop to have them professionally painted onto their cars."
scion  personalization  toyota  customization 
march 2008 by robertogreco
WorldChanging: Tools, Models and Ideas for Building a Bright Green Future: Making Fuel Consumption Visible
"Last week, Toyota announced that in addition to the Prius indicator, it would make efficiency monitors standard equipment on virtually all new Toyota, Lexus, and Scion vehicles, including non-hybrid models."
energy  sustainability  information  toyota  cars  data  displays 
january 2008 by robertogreco
brand promotion = hangout place on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
"never thought toyota as a brand that would provide a cafe for young people. here, it is."
toyota  brands  cars  marketing  youth  cafes  $100  olpc  laptops  lcproject  schooldesign  alternative  thirdspaces  thirdplaces  openstudioproject 
march 2007 by robertogreco

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