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robertogreco : vaporare   1

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

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