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Awareness day for digital access and inclusion

Awareness day for digital access and inclusion

Thursday 19 May 2022

Awareness day for digital access and inclusion

Thursday 19 May 2022


Today marks Global Accessibility Awareness Day, highlighting the important need for accessible and inclusive digital access for people with disabilities.

Islander Pete Torode, who is blind, spoke to Express about how digital access and advancing technologies are a "game changer for everyone, not just those with disabilities".

"It is hugely important to raise awareness of technology and inclusion for everyone, which includes those with disabilities," he said. 

"Next to no one knows about the technology, but all developers should. Technology can be such a massive enabler for everybody, but when it doesn't work correctly for a user then it can be one of the biggest disablers."

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Pictured: Mr Torode said that accessible technology makes his phone "like a swiss army knife". 

Mr Torode uses technology including screen reader software, which is designed to read online content out loud. 

"When a website or an app has screen reader technology enabled correctly you can fly through it like a knife through butter. It's a real pleasure to learn those websites and I will always go back to them," he said. 

"When you come across a website that is an absolute car crash and not coded correctly it can be impossible to use. For example, I can be finding my way around a clunky website, perhaps trying to purchase a product, and if I get to the final stage and the purchase button simply reads aloud as "button" then I'm not going to make the purchase because I won't know what I'm clicking and the business will lose a sale.

"It is for the benefit of all businesses that they make use of making their sites accessible. I work hard for my money and I want a business to have worked hard if I'm going to give it to them; if you can make your websites and apps accessible then you are opening yourself up to a huge new market."

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Pictured: Mr Torode said digital accessibility can be a huge enabler for everyone, including disabled people. 

Mr Torode said that inclusive technology is not only for the disabled. 

"My wife has nothing wrong with her eye sight, but she will use Speakscreen, which will read text aloud to her. She uses it for course materials so that she can take notes while the course content is being read out; there are benefits for everyone with this kind of technology," he said. 

"This kind of technology is not preserved for the disabled. There is smart invert technology, which was available before dark mode on the iPhone and people who were interested in technology downloaded it as it inverts text to be white on a black background instead of the other way around, which is much easier to read."

Mr Torode said that accessible technology is "like a swiss army knife" for him. 

"Another kind of technology which has been incredible for me is called lidar, which stands for light detection and ranging. It is a remote sensing method that uses light in the form of a pulsed laser to measure distance," he said. 

"That lidar technology detects other people and tells you how far away they are, so when I'm walking about the bus terminus, for example, I know that I'm not going to bang into anyone."

Mr Torode said that accessible technology is being developed continually.

"There is something called NaviLens, which provides businesses with a type of QR code to display, which will be scanned by a users phone to let them know exactly where the door is, what the business does and can even be programmed to tell the user of any special offers," he said. 

"It's a step above GSP, which can get you to maybe ten metres from the door of the place you are trying to find. With NaviLens you can turn in place with your phone up until it picks up on the QR code, which it can do from up to about 30 metres away and it will be able to direct you exactly from your location."

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Pictured: Mr Torode uses lidar technology on his phone to tell him how far away people are when he is walking. 

"I also use technology which tells me where I am on the bus route so that I don't miss my stop. I remember another passenger once remarking that he had missed his stop on several occasions in the dark and he asked how I manage to get off at the right place and I told him about the technology," said Mr Torode. 

Mr Torode said that he hopes businesses will start to embrace accessible technology. 

"There are benefits on both sides to accessible technology; the software exists already it is just about websites and apps being set up correctly for users," he said. 

"It can very literally get people through the door of your business, it can tell them what products you have available and can even translate into other languages so that tourists come to your business, it really is a win win."

More information on Accessibility Awareness Day can be found HERE.

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