Disabled Software Innovations create accessible employment.

Disabled Software Innovations create accessible employment.

disabled software innovations

There are many people with a range of disabilities that would not enjoy the professional careers they have, without tech. In fact, as disabled software innovations progress to include greater accessibility, the disabled are finding ways to get the edge in the employment market.

So where will we find these tech masterpieces?

Microsoft Windows 10

For the average user Windows 10 may be just another software platform. To the person with a disability Windows has become an accessibility tool. Everyone that has used Windows 10 is at least aware that Cortana exists. Cortana has developed substantially since she was first introduced in 2014. This piece of tech brings a new way of working to the disabled. Voice activated software has been around for a while. Cortana however, together with the likes of Siri from Apple and Google Assistant, have advanced the tech to operating level from application level.

Windows 10 however goes further than simple voice activation and instruction. Apart from those that have difficulty with using a keyboard, it also has a screen reader and can make magic with colour presentation for the colour blind and those with sight problems influenced by colour. Narrator the windows screen reader reads text on the screen in documents, email and web pages. When combined with Cortana it is an efficient tool to aid the disabled at no further cost than to an able user.

Being able to add colour filters to the screen means that a colour blind person can experience photos easier. Windows have developed filters for the three common forms of colour blindness. This also means that the colour blind no longer have to struggle with reading on red or green backgrounds, where web developers have not been sensitive to their needs.

Alexa – The accessible best friend

The Echo and the echo dot, the latest tech from Amazon has brought accessibility ahead in leaps and bounds. In the past disabled people could get jobs in an office environment. The blind could be trained in reception jobs, with access to braille and adjusted reception equipment.

It was until very recently quite difficult to provide employment that involves variety for the disabled. Alexa has changed that. Alexa is the software that engages orally with the user. Being able to ask for bus timetables, flight arrivals and departures and to place orders online means that the blind and those unable to type can do these tasks. Additionally, they can do these tasks quickly.

Because the Echo can be integrated with other smart technology it can be used to soften or switch off lighting. Equally it can control the volume of music or other broadcast sound from a radio or a television. It can control heating and air conditioning too. Alexa makes phone calls on demand. She can also have her skills upgraded. This means that the new skills that are developed for her will continue to improve accessibility.

Dragon from Nuance

Dragon Naturally speaking is a voice recognition software and assistive technology. It enables user dictation to control the device they are using. This Voice recognition software is commonly used in work and study environments and there are several versions available. The software is trained to recognise the users voice and accent and then will perform based on a few commands.

Crucially it will write, browse the internet and send emails all controlled by voice. The user therefore is not limited to proprietary software. Critically Dragon is compatible with most other software applications within the operating systems for which that version of Dragon was optimised.

Dragon is the front runner in commercial environments and even has a developer’s version. It is also the software of choice in many UK and European Universities. Many disabled software and web developers now write code by using voice recognition. The end result is that they work faster than their able counterparts.

What really sets Dragon apart from the rest is that the desktop licence brings with it a mobile licence. This is one of its widest reaching disabled software innovations. Users can use it on their phones too. This means that they can dictate using their phones when on the go. This serves not only functional purposes such as making a phone call, but also dictation while working on the move. This increases productivity even further giving the disabled person an edge in a competitive employment market.

Google Assistant

Effectively an evolution of Google Now, this development from Google is not really all that new. It has however transformed the lives of many. Google Assistant is considered to be a competitor or equivalent product to Alexa. It also has striking similarities to Siri. While all these products do have similar abilities, they all have their own unique selling points. Google assistant is the software aspect of their product range. It can be used on a laptop, but it is exceptionally better with Googles version of the echo – Google Home. If your business uses Google calendars and other productivity software, this little piece of kit will make a difference.

With exceptional search capabilities, you can check the bus timetables, flight schedules and appointments. By simply asking. This means it does not matter whether your personal assistant is sighted, mobility disabled or dyslexic. They can do their job with relative ease.

ChromeVox and JAWS

JAWS is the most used screen reader globally. The screen reader of choice, it reads aloud the information on the screen. Even whether it is from a browser, a letter or an email. Preferred because of its capacity to read almost any document. It can also output to a refreshable braille display. Making JAWS a dual  use tool with exceptional compatibility with professional environments has been key to its success. Especially where confidential information is accessed and used.

ChromeVox is one of several screen readers specifically designed for searching the web. Both software products are available globally and have been used in different languages across the world. There are many screen readers and it would take a book to name and reference them all. We have now reached a point that there is a screen reader available for almost every computer system available. Even Sun Microsystems (bought out by Oracle) have screen readers that work with their systems.

Disabled software innovations continue to break barriers

The technology to enable the disabled to access working environments is no longer a problem. Visibility, availability and training will lead to new opportunities in the commercial market. This is where these products will eventually become standard in any working environment.

Suitable incentives from government should increase availability to the extent that the software becomes standard in any business environment. Even small business environments are now able to utilise these technologies, as there are free versions widely available. Overall the disabled software innovations mentioned in this article is well within financial reach even to the small business and the entrepreneur.

Ironically, the software available provides accessibility to the disabled may also give the disabled an edge in productivity.  In the modern employment market where they are competing, this is a refreshing development.

At Brayve we use assistive technology in our office. Because of this the digital products including website design that we develop are user friendly. Our clients can rest assured that their website will be readable by those that are sight impaired, explorable by all and visible even to the colour blind.

This is often important to organisations that by their very nature need to be accessible even at a digital level.

Feel free to contact us for an informal no obligation conversation about your development needs for the disabled.

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