Accessible Technology – Stacy’s story

“The wonderful era of accessible technology has been literally life-changing for so many visually impaired people like me”

With a plethora of choices and a dramatic shift in the brand-customer relationship, the majority of consumer purchase decisions are now made on customer experience (CX) – not on price. But, a great CX needs great accessibility and with only an estimated 10% of organisations with a targeted plan to access the disability market, disabled consumers are often left feeling frustrated. 

Designing and building user experiences, with a focus on accessibility is the ultimate customer-first investment; empowering people of all ages to fulfil their potential in work, school, and pursue their passions in life.

In our latest guest blog post, Stacy Scott, Bookshare Service Manager at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), shares her story on how she uses accessible technology in her day to day life and how it became a lifesaver during the Covid-19 lockdown.

The Wonderful Era of Accessible Technology

In all aspects of my life, I have always loved adventure, fun and to strive to achieve as much as possible; whether that’s while studying, when at home or when I’m trekking across the world either for work or fun!

I have always had a very visual mind, which makes me keen to undertake visual activities; but perhaps not ideal when you have no vision! Although I am blind, my mind can see everything and wastes no time in making up pictures, words, colours and scenes for every eventuality I face in life.

Having a head of pictures and a thirst for adventure was torture when I was a child; growing up in a small town with very little opportunity and absolutely no technology that could be used by a blind person.

Fast forward to now and we are into the wonderful era of accessible technology and these advancements have been literally life-changing for so many visually impaired people like me!

Suddenly, with new text-to-speech technology, a whole world of exploration and communication became open to me via the Internet. I could look up resources for my studies, communicate with friends and even play games – and this was just the beginning.

Accessibility Features Out of the Box

Now iPhones and Android devices come with a plethora of accessibility options built in as standard, all designed and ready to make the device user-friendly to those with a varying degree of requirements; from text-to-speech, colour inversion and enlargement software. I now benefit from a whole set of apps on my phone, just waiting to help make my life easier, allowing me to take part in more of the things I want to do.

For example, when I was studying last year, I was able, for the first time ever, to easily access over half a million books in a quick and easy accessible form, using the combination of the RNIB Bookshare Service and the Dolphin EasyReader app on my laptop and phone. 

This was worlds apart from the previous experience I had while at University. Whilst all my friends were exploring the bars, I spent night after night, feeding hundreds of pages through a scanner, only to find out it hadn’t scanned well, or it was not the book I needed after all. To be able to quickly search, download and read on RNIB Bookshare and EasyReader, was a wonderful experience and one I wish so desperately I had had available to me when I was at University. Things have come such a long way in just ten years.

Now, when I am going out on dates with my new husband, or for a night in the West-End with friends, I can actually use technology to tell me the colour of my clothes, or through the BeMyEyes app on my phone, I can check that my make-up is ‘just right’, as the app connects the user to over a million sighted volunteers ready to assist with any visual task, through any camera phone.

A Lockdown Lifesaver

Technology awakens a world of exploration and discovery for me and gives me access to information, communication, security and the confidence to pursue my most fervent passions, travel.

Being able to research locations; learn languages; connect with communities; and even use Google Maps; has allowed me to travel to places I couldn’t have dreamed I would be fortunate enough to visit. From working in Freetown, Sierra Leone; traveling across Bangladesh, to having someone help me take a picture of the Taj Mahal while they were halfway across the world.

During the recent Covid-19 lockdown, technology has allowed me to keep abreast of latest developments; do my shopping; work from home, stay connected with friends and family and even enabled me to keep up-to-date with the latest Netflix’ series; giving me something to talk about on all those Zoom calls!

The thought that I could be stuck in doors for so long without this life-giving technology, is unbearable – and if it had all happened just ten years ago, I am not sure if I could have survived at all.

Technology has given me so much and I truly want to see it in the hands of every person on the planet who would find it of any benefit; particularly for those who continue to face challenges due to disability. Developments in technology and specifically the adaptations made to allow those with disabilities to use mainstream devices has, undoubtedly, empowered an incalculable number of people, of all ages, to fulfil their potential in work, school, and pursue their passions in life.

The more awareness of making software, apps and websites affordable, accessible and continuously inclusive; the closer we can move towards a more equal society. A society where, through technology, we all have the same opportunities to enjoy life!

At Zoonou, we help our clients to understand the barriers that people with disabilities face when using digital platforms and how putting the right quality assurance processes in place will allow them to build robust and accessible products.

For more information, check out our accessibility testing services page

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