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This Small Change Could Make a Big Difference For Accessible Technology

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Yahoo's accessibility lab.

Technology companies including Facebook and Yahoo say they will develop standard language informing job applicants that accessibility knowledge is "strongly preferred" to land a job.

Credit: Yahoo

Yahoo, Facebook, and several other technology companies on Thursday announced they will develop standard language informing job applicants that accessibility knowledge is "preferred" to land a job, as part of a joint initiative between disability proponents, schools, and the tech industry to make all technology accessible from the outset.

Consultant Henry Claypool says such language sends the message to applicants and universities that knowledge of accessibility issues is critical. "You can easily argue that if you don't have [accessible technology] that people are being excluded," he says. "And that's dangerously close to discrimination."

Yahoo has constructed an accessibility lab on its campus where it brings in employees and guests to highlight the experience of using technology when you are disabled, for the purpose of raising awareness. The lab features computers and mobile devices with software that will read onscreen content, while various gloves, goggles, and other tools simulate disabilities.

Meanwhile, Facebook's "empathy lab" enables employees to test accessibility products for the social media site. The collaboration with schools also helps increase the number of future tech designers who receive accessibility training. "Our hope is that together we can tackle this systemic challenge and find ways to make accessibility fundamental to one's learning path in technology," says Facebook's Jeffrey Wieland.

From The Washington Post
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