Global Accessibility Awareness Day: Bringing inclusion through accessibility


Posted on: May 16, 2018 by Neil Milliken

Tomorrow, Thursday 17th May, we will be celebrating Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) by hosting our fourth annual event, when we will look at inclusion through accessibility. We will be joined by many from the accessibility community including representatives from the government, industry, financial services, academic and user communities — You can watch the event live on the day here.

Right now is an exciting time for accessibility and the future is looking bright. Just last week Microsoft announced a new $25 million, 5-year program, AI for Accessibility, designed to help people with disabilities by funding developers to deliver accessible and intelligent AI solutions.

More and more of the technologies we use daily have accessibility features built in – the latest versions of PowerPoint can automatically create descriptions for pictures and simple charts, YouTube videos can be automatically captioned and many home automation products can help with the daily functioning of our homes, making them both friendlier and safer for those who experience visual, audio or cognitive issues.

There is even more to come with the emergence of new technologies. AI and machine learning will bring the movement even further. Deep learning and neural networks will power speech recognition with reduced error allowing for better captioning and subtitle abilities and Wearables can solve accessibility challenges on the move with face recognition apps for those who are Autistic or have prosopagnosia (face blindness).

In the context of all this investment and innovation it would be fair to assume that we must also be seeing improvements in workplace equality. However, a 2017 report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission revealed that the difference in pay between disabled and non-disabled people is continuing to widen.

If accessibility tools are getting better, why is this not translating into better equality for disabled people in the workplace?

Technology innovation needs to be met with business change to deliver meaningful results. To make a workplace inclusive as well as accessible requires planning alongside the right tools and technology.

To this end, Atos recently announced that we have joined the International Labour Organisation global business and disability network – a unique worldwide network of multinational companies, national employers’ organizations, business networks and disabled people’s organizations (DPOs) working in collaboration to promote disability inclusion in the workplace.

The ILO is part of the United Nations and is committed to sharing knowledge and identifying good practice among companies and employers’ organizations. Very few organizations take a global view of disability and the opportunity for Atos is to make the step-change on a global scale driving inclusivity and accessibility through all parts of the business.

This is an exciting time for accessibility technology and the leaps that will be made over the next few years will be huge. The challenge is now on for business to take advantage of this.

We are excited to play our part. Are you?

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About Neil Milliken

Head of Accessibility & Digital Inclusion and member of the Scientific Community
With over a decade of experience in the assistive technology industry, Neil is the subject matter expert on Accessibility and Assistive Technology for Atos, delivering consultancy, expertise and supporting bid and delivery teams across customer accounts and internally. Neil is the Atos representative on the Business Taskforce For Assistive Technology which has members across industry and government. He also sits on various advisory bodies including the e-accessibility forum for the UK Department for Culture Media and Sport. Previously Neil ran the operations for one of the world’s leading Assistive Technology suppliers where he was instrumental in the creation of industry standards and Supplier SLAs for the Disabled Student Allowance. He was also a director of a Joint venture company that developed an award winning Mobile app for dyslexia. He has a passion for his subject matter and loves mobiles, technology and music in no particular order.

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