Accessibility: A Case for a Different Approach

by The H.E.A.T. Exchange

After I parked by car, I noticed a gentleman getting out of his car.  He was parked in a handicap space.  He told me that he did not need any help and that he parked there because nobody ever uses that space.

I visited by friend to watch a football game.  He couldn’t find the remote control so he used a long stick to change the channels.  After the game, we jogged to the gym to play basketball.

A young man asked me for the time.  I gave it to him and asked him did he see the big clock on the wall.  He told me he had problems seeing.  I asked him if he wore glasses.  He said he didn’t wear glasses because people would poke fun at him.

One of my workers was having problems reading a document.  The document was one-paragraph long, printed with large letters, and using plain language.  After some investigative querying, it became obvious he could not read well.  I asked him why he never asked for help.  He said that he did not want to lose his job and figured he could just nod his head to appear in-the-know.

Hey, what is the point of all this?

Can we easily and correctly identify people by observing their behavior?  False negatives and false positives is a high risk when dealing with people in society.  Fear of embarrassment, ridicule, loss of status, or being negatively categorized will cause many to hide their shortcomings.

Some people are simply lazy in both mind and body.  They will use assistive tools not out of necessity, but for their convenience.  This is the case for Accessibility-as-a-Convenience.

Picture the guy who cannot find his television remote.  He will spend hours looking for that device instead of spending a few seconds to walk to the television and hit a few buttons.  Why?  Because he is lazy-minded. Advanced technology has caused him to forget his basic physical and mental functions.  Is he disabled?  No, but he will complain as if he were disabled.

Again, what is the point?!

As it stands, people are grouped based on superficial, or observable, characteristics.  As with skin color, this act does not always bear good fruit.  Accessibility is often argued and studied as the result of group associations: the aged, the blind, the mentally challenged, and so forth.  What if accessibility were to look at these groups as simply sources of issues instead of as the issue.

Take for instance: a study group consisting of blind people.  Now take the results of their issues and apply it to people who cannot see well and those who can see, but will use features to enhance their experience.  Remember, accessibility-as-a-convenience.

Keyboard accessibility may be a benefit for folks who rather use their keyboards instead of a mouse or for those who may have lost their mouse (or cannot afford to purchase a new mouse at the time).  This will have nothing to do with lack of hand-mobility or motor skills, but convenience.

Sounds about right, but what’s in it for me?

Newer generations of people will be weaker than the ones before them.  This is made evident by the obesity rate and increased criminal activities in our society.  We no longer hunt for food, but go to grocery stores.  Even some grocery stores are starting to deliver directly to the homes.

We no longer walk miles to school, but take buses.  Many folks are even home schooling.  We no longer handle disputes with our fists, but use comments on Facebook and Twitter to do our fighting…and bullying.

Accessible features will be needed by the off-springs of this bunch because the weak cannot teach strength.  The lazy cannot (or will not) teach effort.  Though not disabled in the purest sense, new generations will rely on accessible features to keep life easy and effortless.  This will be the target demographic for new technology for the present and in the near future.