News | 25 July 2018

People With Disability And Technology: Australian Human Rights Commission Panel

Panelists talking at the AHRC Human Rights and Technology Conference

The Australian Human Rights Commission’s Human Rights and Technology Conference included a special section focusing on people with disabilities and technology. We were there, and we noticed a lot of other members of our community were too!

Here’s some of the highlights:

Inclusive design starts at the beginning of a project

Dr Manisha Amin works in accessible technology every day, and she said that the biggest problem at the moment is that testing if the technology works for people with disability happens too late in the design process. Dr Amin called it the “biggest challenge to technology”, but she also said that having the conversation about accessibility and inclusive design at the start of development was the most important part of making technology that works of all of us.

“Technology should inspire us, not make us complacent”

Emma Bennison made the point that as accessible technology improves we should not stop working to make it better and even more user friendly. She said we need to see a more proactive approach to solving the challenges people with disability face in accessing new technology, and that developers need to realise that people in our community are all very different. Just because it works for one of us, doesn’t mean it works for all of us, and each of us needs different options for how we can use new types of tech.

The Government must show leadership to ensure accessible technology is here for all of us

Bennison also pointed out how accessible technology in Australia is already falling behind other countries. We don’t even have audio description on TV shows yet! Alastair McEwin agreed, and made it clear that the Australian Government needs to support our community by providing us with the technology we need and encouraging innovation in inclusive design. It is up to our government to make sure that we can access technology that works for all of us.

We still face a lot of discrimination when it comes to technology, but together we can tell our leaders that this needs to change. Difficulty accessing technology is still one of the biggest complaints the Human Rights Commission receives, and as Bennison pointed out, it seems ridiculous that we still have to tirelessly fight to be included in something that is so commonplace.

We can’t wait to see what the next steps will be. Technology isn’t just useful, it can be fun as well. We’re ready to step into the future with technology that supports and works for all of us.

The panel was made up of Disability and Discrimination Commissioner Alastair McEwin, Executive Officer of Blind Citizens Australia Emma Bennison, and CEO of the Centre for Inclusive Design Dr Manisha Amin.

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