Reflections on accessible tech

15 October 2019

Interview with 

Adi Latif, AbilityNet

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Katie Haylor asked AbilityNet's Adi Latif for his thoughts on the Inclusive Computing show...

Adi - I think it's really exciting. You know if you look at the programming, for example, that's something that I was not able to do at school, there was just no means for me to do it. And it just sounds so amazing using all your senses to do something like programming, and it just shows it's not just obviously for blind children, they're just makes it exciting for other people. So I'd love to try that even though I'm older than 11 years old. And looking at the eye typing, the typing just by using your eyes and doing it fast, I mean obviously it makes the lives of disabled people much better and makes them more operational. But you can just imagine the application of this type of technology to the lives of everyone. You know I can just imagine wearing smart glasses and sitting in a meeting and texting with your eyes, not letting people know that you're texting... So all this kind of innovation, they're for disabled people, goes into mainstream at some point, and I think that's really exciting.

Katie - It does seem like one of the messages we've been hearing about in the show is more inclusive design is just better design in general. Would you agree?

Adi - Absolutely. If you bring people in front of you who have more challenging needs to help you look at a problem from so many different angles, you end up making a solution from so many different angles, a solution that you may not have envisaged in the past. So the end result is much better. And if you just look at the physical world, if you make a ramp into a building and that would definitely help someone in a wheelchair, but you have a parent taking a pushchair up there, you have someone with deliveries going up there, you have someone who may have twisted their ankle the weekend before. So designing for people who are disabled really I think helps everyone in the long run.

Katie - And how about the wider public because we're generating lots of digital content these days, is there anything we can do to be more inclusive?

Adi - Absolutely. I think before you make any sort of digital content, before making a website or an app, just ask yourself the question: is this meeting the needs of our users? And understand that up to 20 percent, more than 20 percent of the population has some form of disability so you don't want to exclude those people. And just something simple, say if you've got a website, just see if you can navigate that website without the mouse and just by doing that you will help many many types of disability groups. So you're helping someone who's blind like myself who uses a screen reader and relies on the keyboard, you help people who are navigating a website just by their eyes, people that are navigating website just by using their voice, or just something as simple as checking it works with a keyboard, checking that the color contrast is ok, checking that you can resize the text. So there's a number of things you can do in there. There's a lot of guidance online on how to do these things.

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