The History of Accessibility & How You Can be Part of its Future

1 October 2017 / RightHear / Mollie Cole, Community & Content Manager

To listen to this blog post as an audio file on YouTube, click here.

1 October 2017 / RightHear / Mollie Cole, Community & Content Manager

To listen to this blog post as an audio file on YouTube, click here.

1 October 2017 / RightHear / Mollie Cole, Community & Content Manager

To listen to this blog post as an audio file on YouTube, click here.

It’s October, which means it’s Disability Awareness Month and Blind Awareness Month. To celebrate, we’ll be taking a look at both the history, and the future of accessibility for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Like other innovative advances that have shaped today’s world, accessibility and the field of orientation and mobility rose out of World War II. Soldiers who were blinded in combat returned to the USA and were sent to VA Hospitals where the vets and their sighted caretakers worked together to establish some of the first specialized orientation & mobility techniques. As different techniques evolved in different hospitals, regional instructors gathered together to standardize the field and make sure that soldiers were getting the best education available.

While these techniques were developed by, and for, middle-aged men who had been sighted for most of their lives, eventually people saw the applications of the field to children who were blind. In the 1960s, orientation and mobility specialists were trained at a university level and then assigned to public schools for the first time. Eventually, orientation and mobility professionals worked together through the American Foundation for the Blind to launch one of the first O&M textbooks and standardize techniques across the country.

While the field of helping those who were blind/visually impaired physically get around was well established by this point, in the 1980s and 1990s there was a new need to navigate the growing digital world. The first screen readers appeared in the ‘80s and the World Wide Web published some of the first online accessibility standards. The passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in 1990 also set unprecedented equality and accessibility standards.

That said, with all the advancement in science and technologies, the field of medical treatments are constantly evolving. For instance, the inception of online data portals has helped a lot in the healthcare sector to ease the process of treatment, and also aid them in improving patient-centric insights. By using the collected data and using advanced healthcare data analytics, medical facility providers can keep track of every patient’s detail in easily accessible dashboards. This further allows patients to obtain tailored reports in no time. Needless to say that this technological development seems to have paved way for the healthcare experts to collaborate with others in the field to offer better clinical solutions. .

However, the major technological change in the medical field has been brought by mobile phones. So, it would not be unjust to say that smartphones are the name of the game. The exponentially growing influence of smartphones and mobile technology has truly revolutionized independence and accessibility for those who are blind or visually impaired. With the rise of mobile apps and object recognition technology popularized in this decade, those who are blind or visually impaired can navigate daily life safely and confidently. Similarly, for mobility disabled family members, you can now buy a wheelchair lift for your car, which can make transportation easy for them. Various institutions, general stores, and other facilities might also provide ramps and elevators for easy access to people with disability. These small measures can create a huge difference in the life of such individuals by providing them the independence to access public locations.

The future of accessibility depends on the willingness of designers and decision-makers to adopt Universal Design principles and understand that accessibility is a good thing for everyone, not just one certain target audience. The rise of smart cities incorporates technology into physical spaces with accessible design in mind and will truly reinvent urban life for people with disabilities. All over the world, governments are implementing schemes and building infrastructure that is accessible to people with disabilities. One example of this would be developed countries such as Australia, which has been working on a national disability insurance program (NDIS) to reform how individuals with disabilities are supported. The program is designed for people with significant disabilities, their families, and caregivers. This scheme has a focus on early intervention and is made available to the public through an ndis provider. Getting early intervention can help to lessen the impact of the person’s disability.

Moreover, NDIS providers can also improve their services by adopting new-age technology that can help to manage their duties, shifts, client data like medicines and other needs that a companion may have to assist in. NDIS software could be used to avail all such facilities, which a company can implement for their disability support workforce. They can also look for the best NDIS software available to get top-class structure.

Accessible design online, including the importance of an accessible user interface, is also more important than ever as companies and individuals place an ever-greater value on diversity and inclusion. If you want to be part of the future of accessibility, make sure to consider the universal design and how people of all abilities will interact with your space, be it physical or digital.

Where do you see the future of accessibility going? Tell us in the comments or on social media, and make sure to share this post in honor of Disability Awareness Month!