Access and Inclusion through Technology

Access Technology - Today and Tomorrow

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The language of Accessibility has to change !

November 18th, 2009
Its been a while since Ive had a rant - but here we go
What are the barriers that are slowing down the uptake of assistive technologies ? We normally talk about cost, training, awareness and all of the usual issues. I’m increasingly thinking that the problem is more fundamental than that.  Too often the language we use to describe and define the possible gadgets and gizmos that might help a computer user is driven by tech speak. Too many we all talk nonsense, OSKs, VR, Assistive, adaptive, VOCA’s are all words and acronyms that are at best confusing and at worst unintelligible
Our language is driven by the technology and by engineers not by users or audience
Lets take some examples - Screenreaders - are what exactly ? - maybe we mean - having your computer speak to you
Screen Magnification - Making all or part of your screen appear larger
Voice Recognition - how your computer can understand what you speak
and even Assistive Technology, stuff that helps you do stuff on a computer
If we really want to take AT to the masses, allowing everyone to find a solution that meets their needs we need to find a new vocabulary, one that is clear and transparent and which starts not from a technical base but from the perspective of the user, such a language will make it easier for users to search for solutions as they will understand what they are looking for, it will help with a dialogue between users and developers and allow training materials to be easily translated and used
So what are the words and phrases that are the worst offenders
Let us know and post your translations here
Just to start you off - heres my faves
autotext ?
Keyboard shortcuts ?
Interface ?
trackball ?
pointing device ?
Hmmm some things to consider and mull

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