But does the word ‘accessibility’ inhibit its use?
Now there’s a question and a half. Technology, as I’ve reflected before, plays such an important part in our lives. Okay, I know that some will say they will not go near technology if you paid them lots and lots of money, but to be truthful, through televisions to household appliances, the advance of technology means that it is affecting more and more people each day.
Although I haven’t got one as yet, I have been impressed by the Amazon echo dot system. Have devices that can be linked to your Wi-Fi and be activated on voice rather than a series of gestures on a flat screen is something that can and does appeal to so many people. Whether you want to ask Alexa (yes that’s her name) about the weather, the latest news or just to get her to play your favourite song, the possibilities for this system are endless. The cost as well is lower than most devices because it appeals to more than a visually impaired audience; hence they can be mass produced reducing the selling price.
The hardest part of using this system is in its set up, but when this has been done, it will work as really you command it. However, not all devices that have ‘apparent’ inbuilt accessibility are that easy to use. Most tablets and smartphones have inbuilt assistive technologies such as magnifiers, screen readers and voice activation facilities. On the face of it, it makes accessing information such as texts, emails, bus/train times and radio (to name a few examples) possible and in some cases easier. However, although such accessibility functions are available, their usability does create some problems and difficulties in their use. For instance, controlling the settings, learning gestures and picturing the layout of certain devices can pose problems for some. It’s a learning process within itself and the words useability and accessibility can easily be replaced by frustration and exasperation.
This is why access to training, advice and support with technology is so important. Having worked in this field for more years than I can possibly count (is that my age saying something haha), I know that support is extremely important for many to access technology. Additionally, this should not just be blanket support (i.e. the same type for everyone) but instead it should be personalised and shaped to the needs of each individual; what one person finds easy, another will find difficult.
The advantages that technology, especially smart devices like tablets and phones can bring, are really important to keep focused on. The key principle in my mind here is access to information and when we have that, we have choice and the ability to find out things without relying on others.
Ah just a ramble