The Value of Inclusive Smart Technology at the Design Level

So often we hear stories of how technology is assisting those with visual impairments, but what we don’t hear is how it’s impeding their accessibility and usability of everyday objects.

Take coffeemakers, for example: most, especially the fancy digital ones, are not that easy to operate. While static buttons and interfaces can have braille, smart screens, which are more and more becoming the standard, are constantly changing, leaving braille unfeasible.

When it comes to microwaves the same problem exists. People with visual impairments need to make sure that their microwave has static buttons—not smart or touchscreens.

Technology exists, and is available to make it much easier, but this technology is not yet built into most equipment. Try operating your microwave, washing machine or tumble dryer with the buttons or touchscreen covered or hidden. Muscle memory may serve you well, but it is unlikely you will be able to operate the device entirely on your own without taking a look to be sure you have not selected an incorrect action. It only takes a little thoughtfulness to produce equipment, which is usable to many more people – including people with visual impairments, a total of 21 million people in the US. Not only that, but it also makes more business sense for the manufacturers. If more people can use the equipment, more people will buy it. Not to mention that it takes choices away that other people have by default.