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Each year brings new developments in technology and new challenges for accessibility. That means that more must be done to be inclusive so that everyone can benefit equally from the advances that make our lives more efficient, more fun and more interesting. The digital advancements that are coming in 2020, just as those seen in recent years, will be influenced by the need for accessibility to be at the front of each development effort. We can thank the Americans With Disabilities Act and W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines for this.
The next version of the W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines is in development and due out in 2020. One of the goals of the W3C is to broaden the scope to be inclusive of more disabilities. A critical next milestone is to expand access to more technologies.
A Lucrative Market
People with disabilities (PWDs) represent a vast, underserved market. The World Health Organization has stated that their estimates show over one billion people with disabilities exist around the world. When you add the increasing numbers of aging people in the population that have sensory or motor challenges to the people of all ages with disabilities, the numbers are staggering. Demand, along with the approximate potential $8 trillion in buying power, drives supply.
AI and ML
Artificial intelligence and machine learning continue to make huge advancements. The ability for software to recognize facial expressions, linguistic expression, and sounds have been invaluable for providing more inclusion for the disabled. Data gathered will power machine learning to be able to provide more intuitive responses and assist those with hearing loss by auto-captioning with AI. Facial and image recognition can help those with poor vision or full vision loss.
Accessibility as a Sustainable Business Practice
Accessibility is a must-have for businesses. Whether it is to avoid lawsuits, provide more accessibility for job applicants or to enable a more diverse workforce, it is a fact of life for companies in all industries. A driver of innovation in the coming years will be determining how to maintain solid accessibility practices in products, offerings and business practices while meeting business goals. Leveraging new testing tools, using PWDs in test efforts or gathering input on how a person with a disability uses software and what challenges they face can drive the next wave of innovation.
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