Technology developers overlook disabled people – vote for change!

At AbilityNet, our aim is to help disabled people of all ages to use digital technology to improve their lives, so we're perhaps more aware than many of its real power.

However passionate people may feel about, for example, their amazing new smartphone functions, just imagine how it feels when technology literally changes your life, such as making it possible to speak when you can't otherwise. Or using it to get access to education materials and many other liberating tools.

We're always thinking about technology and independence at AbilityNet, but there's actually been very little research done to judge the public view on how useful technology is for everyone. Last month on behalf of BT we helped carry out a study of 2,000 adults in the UK which revealed there is a strong public desire to see technology used for social good.

The survey found that:

  • almost three quarters (71 per cent) believe computer devices and apps do not cater to the interests or needs of disabled audiences
  • more than half (54 per cent) thought disabled audiences are overlooked by many technology companies and developers
  • 45 per cent said they expect inventors to be inspired by more than just making money
  • 35 per cent believed that transforming lives should be a key purpose. 

One way that we're trying to get inventors to think about how they can help bring about this much needed social change is through the BT-supported Tech4Good Awards.

The awards encourage developers to design apps and services that cater better for disabled people and champion and celebrate individuals and businesses who are transforming lives through technology innovation.

And the awards really highlight some great work. I'd urge you to have a look at this short video that shows what previous award winners have achieved. Then you can do your bit to help make change happen by looking at the shortlist for this year, and voting for your favourite project to win.

The latest research has highlighted the crucial role technology plays in solving the unsolvable and helping people get on with daily life. We all still need to be more vocal in asking for technology to be made fully accessible, but we hope that through initiatives like the Tech4Good awards we'll start to see changes that really are good for everyone.

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