It's been at least five years since I heard someone say, "Blind people can use computers?". You won't catch me arguing that we've resolved most of the accessibility gaps that keep people with disabilities from fully participating in the workplace and society, but I do feel like we've reached the tipping point in the last couple of years.
And here's why. One of my many roles in my accessibility/social networking/web management job is as a content curator. (See this great article from EContent Magazine for more information.) For every piece of content I share on one of my IBM or personal social channels, I probably see 60 or 70. And I've just plucked a few examples as proof points:
- The Twenty-First Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act was signed by President Barack Obama on October 8, 2010. It requires that unedited, full-length programs shown on TV with captions must also be captioned when they are made available online.
- Netflix recently settled a lawsuit and agreed that within two years all movies and television shows it streams will be closed captioned.
- YouTube is now asking its viewers to report when a video is not captioned.
- The 2012 Paralympics in London sold 2.7 million tickets — a new record.
- Oscar Pistorius became a household name last year, and I suspect most people saw at least one of the photos of him racing along on his high tech blades, like this great one from Fast Company Design:
|Oscar Pistorius is amazing.|
Here are two mainstream trends I've seen in the last week that I think are tipping point sign posts, especially since they are targeted at children.
|American Girl doll with a hearing aid|
- If you have little girls or know any little girls, then you probably are familiar with the American Girl dolls. They are diverse and inclusive — there are a multitude of skin, hair and eye color combinations available so that a girl can get a doll that looks just like her. In this article from ABC News, American Girl Dolls Embrace Differences and Disabilities, we learn that dolls can now have a miniature service dog in harness, a hearing aid or an allergy-free lunch kit, in addition to glasses, braces, crutches, a wheel chair, or no hair to represent those who have lost hair to cancer. As the author of this article states, "... it’s hard not to cheer for a doll company that goes out of its way to represent girls from all walks of life and every circumstance." Exactly.
|Hercules and Brandeis|
- Canine Companions for Independence, a wonderful organization that provides highly trained assistance dogs to people with disabilities, published an article about Hercules, a Canine Companions dog, who makes an appearance in Episode 43 of Sesame Street. Hercules helps new Muppet character Brandeis find his calling as an assistance dog. I haven't seen the episode, but the video clip is very cute.