New Google Initiative Highlights Accessibility in Tech

April 14, 2016

9:45 am

In the Unites States alone, there are an estimated 1 billion people living with disabilities. Tech megalith Google is doing their part in ensuring that the needs of the disabled are accounted for in the latest tech products.

In a blog post, Google announced the launch of their initiative, Google Impact Challenge: Disabilities. They write:

“One in three people with a disability lives in poverty. In places like the United States, 50 to 70 percent of people with disabilities are unemployed; in developing countries that number increases to 80 to 90 percent. And only 10 percent of people with disabilities in developing countries have access to the assistive devices they need.”

The initiative was actually kicked off last spring when the company launched the project to call on “global nonprofits who are building transformative technologies” for those living with disabilities. Over 1,000 programs crossing over 88 countries answered the call in the first round, with the winning bunch including 30 companies.

Each of the companies are expanding how tech is diversified in their own way and are even open to the idea of open sourcing their work. In total, Google has distributed $20 million in grants to assist these companies with their work. Some of this round of Google Impact Challenge winners include The Center for Discovery and their work on the indieGo; Perkins School for the Blind and their work in transportation; and Miraclefeet and their work to make life easier for children living with clubfoot.

Accessibility in tech is a growing concern – even with the large number of disabled users around the world, a significant amount of tech doesn’t take into account the unique struggles that disabled users face. Although not all companies can have large grant contests like Google, it’s still possible for us to utilize more accessible tech practices within our products. Even incorporating descriptions beneath images or allowing users to customize specific settings can vastly improve the accessibility of a product or service.

Accessibility in tech is something that we must all play a part in improving, and it’s easier than we thing to create that change.

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Cameron is a tech and culture journalist, comic book enthusiast, and lives near New York City. A graduate of Stockton University, she's using her words to shift the world of online journalism, one byline at a time. When she's not writing, she can be found reading sci-fi novels, collecting succulents, and planning her next obnoxious hair color. Cameron is an editorial fellow at Tech.Co. Send your tips to cameron@tech.co or tweet @BlkGirlManifest.

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