Envisioning the future of accessible work: Insights from Mike May
Inclusive Innovation, hosted by Envision and Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, brought together leaders in the field of accessibility to discuss the future of work for people who are blind or have low vision.
Mike's experience and expertise in these areas make him a valuable voice in the conversation around inclusive innovation and accessible work. His work at GoodMaps and Sendero Group demonstrate a commitment to using technology and design to make the world more accessible to people with visual impairment.
The Evolution of Technology:
Over the past 50 years, technology has revolutionized the way we live and interact with the world. Mike notes the evolution of touchscreens and icons from keys and knobs, which has changed the way we interact with devices. While touchscreens have been challenging for the blind community, he acknowledges the necessity of adapting to mainstream market trends.
He also notes the evolution of optical character recognition (OCR) technology, from the Kurzweil reader which was the size of a washing machine to OCR apps on smartphones. He suggests that the proliferation of OCR apps means that there are now many options to choose from, but it's important to have multiple tools in one's toolbox.
Bone Conduction Headphones:
Bone conduction headphones have been a game-changer for the blind community. Mike mentions that he uses them to access portable information while walking around without covering his ears. While the technology was expensive and heavy in the early 2000s, the evolution of bone conduction headphones has been a huge breakthrough for the blind community.
Research and Information Access:
In terms of research and information access, Mike highlights the shift from manual research methods to Google queries and conversational chatbots like ChatGPT. He notes the incredible potential of AI technology, which has been around for a long time and has been used in a variety of contexts.
Check out the new AI feature on Envision Glasses: Ask Envision using this link.
Mobility tools have also evolved over the years, from manual methods like taking the bus to the advent of rideshare technology. Mike emphasizes that rideshare has been one of the greatest innovations of this century, providing the blind community with greater independence. While there may be some challenges associated with rideshare, the speaker believes that the benefits far outweigh the difficulties.
As a blind individual, navigating the world can be a challenge when your hands are constantly occupied with a cane or guide dog. However, with the development of tools like Envision Glasses, many aspects of life for the blind community have been transformed. These glasses can connect to various apps such as Aira, allowing users to access information and assistance with just a simple gesture or through voice commands. With these technological advancements, people with blindness are able to enjoy a greater sense of independence and accessibility in their daily lives. Request a free demo of the Envision Glasses to learn more
The AI-powered technology offered by Envision can assist individuals with visual impairments in navigating their work environment, interacting with digital content, and communicating with colleagues. For example, the object recognition feature can help individuals locate items such as documents, equipment, or office supplies, while the text-to-speech feature can assist with reading digital content such as emails, reports, or presentations. Envision's facial recognition feature can also help individuals identify their colleagues or customers.
By implementing Envision's technology, businesses can create a more inclusive and accessible workplace for individuals with visual impairments, promoting diversity, and equality. Click here to see how Envision can make your workplace more accessible
Mike's speech at Inclusive Innovation 2023 left us feeling inspired and hopeful about the future of accessible work. He emphasized the importance of embracing technology to create a more inclusive world for everyone, regardless of their abilities. With the advancements in AI and machine learning, there is a great opportunity to develop innovative solutions that can help people with disabilities live more fulfilling lives.
We were reminded that accessibility is not just a matter of compliance, but rather an opportunity to drive innovation and create solutions that benefit everyone. With the right mindset, tools, and technology, we can break down barriers and create a more inclusive world that values and accommodates people of all abilities.
If you're interested in viewing the entire speech, you can watch the video using this link.