Charles McFadden, CTO Communication Service for the Deaf
“New products like Alexa, while cutting edge in terms of redefining user interaction with technology, are inadvertently excluding people who may not be able to access or express information through auditory channels.
While technology exists and is being developed to make older audio based technologies, like radio, accessible to Deaf people via automatic speech transcription and other means, it is not common practice to do so.
There is a huge opportunity for newer technology like Alexa to lead the charge, and make it a priority to ensure that their technology is accessible to everyone on multiple levels. To not do so is a missed opportunity to reach into markets beyond the Deaf community.
Witness how mobile texting, while originally viewed by many as inefficient and substandard to the voice, is now a widespread practice. With many of the latest technological advances migrating towards a world where the IOT can be and likely will be managed through audio/voice command and control, the need for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing to work closely with developers of those latest innovations to ensure their accessibility for everyone has never been more important.
As with any disability, deafness can be permanent (sensorineural loss), temporary (ear infection), or situational (noisy environment). To ensure the successful transmission of any critical audio communication, every product needs to have an alternative mechanism for relaying its message allowing it to maximize its reach and breadth within its target audience.”