Benefits of Accessibility

For people with anxiety and who are on the autism spectrum, loud shelf stacking noises, bleating PA announcements, and grating fluorescent lighting can make a trip to the grocery store an exercise in misery. However, one New Zealand chain, Countdown, aims to change that with new “quiet hours” on Wednesdays from 2:30-3:30pm. During this weekly hour, shelf-stacking will slow to a minimum, lights will be dimmed, and even the checkout noises will decrease in volume. The positive feedback Countdown has received from customers from all walks of life after the stores instituted the quiet hours have thrilled the CEO, Dane Dougan. “It highlights how some small changes can create a more inclusive environment that will impact people significantly,” he said in a statement.


Auticon, a small California-based technology firm, is staffed entirely by people with autism. It was started by Gray Benoist, the father of two sons with autism after he became concerned about their potential job opportunities. “I felt that the gap had to be filled and there was no other way to fill it than by taking action myself,” said Benoist of his decision.

The firm has grown to over 150 employees since its inception in 2013 and offers a comfortable environment for autistic people - meaning no pressure to socialize, dark rooms for working, and even the option to eschew verbal communication altogether by communicating solely through digital messaging. This accommodating culture has led to a high retention rate that most firms can only dream of. 

Unless their eyes are closed and covered with soap, most sighted people rarely mistake the shampoo bottle for the conditioner or vice versa. Unfortunately, this is an everyday annoyance for visually impaired people, as shampoo and conditioner bottles generally lack differentiating physical characteristics.

Recently, however, P&G’s obsession with their customers led them into inclusive design territory: they decided to add vertical lines on the bottom of Herbal Essences’ shampoo bottles and circles to the bottom of the conditioner bottles to eliminate confusion for their visually impaired customers.

While medicinal product packaging must have Braille in Europe, no such regulation exists in the United States. Advocates and people with disabilities hope P&G’s initiative will spark a chang in mindset among other consumer packaged goods companies.

A new machine being rolled out in Florida voting facilities this fall promises an inclusive voting experience for all users, regardless of their physical abilities. Known as ExpressVote, this machine boasts multiple capabilities that cater to all manner of physical disabilities. A touch screen allows users to enlarge, darken, and lighten the screen to suit their particular needs. For voters who rely on audio, ExpressVote offers the option to listen to ballot choices through headphones and verbally choose a selection. It even has Braille. Once the vote is confirmed, it is printed and tabulated along with the rest of the votes. While many voters with disabilities choose to mail in their votes, ExpressVote provides one more way that they can experience the world just like everyone else.

Is the glass half full or half empty? Do you have a unique ability or a disability?

Words are tricky. Describing the same thing in two different ways is like magic because the undertones can change between negative and positive. Is your glass half full? Is your blind friend at work uniquely abled?  

Take low vision for instance, a physical condition that limits a person’s sense of sight. At first glance, that may have negative connotations. The mind immediately jumps to the things that a person with low vision cannot do, the places where they are limited.

The IAP Your Accessibility Podcast logo

The Interactive Accessibility Podcast (IAP) is an entertaining approach to accessibility. We enjoy sharing our discussions on accessibility and how it relates to technology, real-life issues, information, businesses, and people with disabilities. In this episode: Flying Cars.

Did you know there are only about 10,000 guide dogs in the United States? With only 0.003% of the population using a guide dog, it is understandable that people do not know how to react to a service animal. Whether it is an adult or a curious toddler, I’m often the focus of attention everywhere I go.  Many times, the public seems to forget all manners and yell out “Dog! Dog!” or “Puppy!


The 32st Annual International Technology and Persons with Disabilities Conference, known to people in the industry as the 2017 CSUN Conference, is being held at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, CA from February 27 to March 3. CSUN, through the International Conference on Assistive Technology for Persons with Disabilities, provides an inclusive setting and hosts many groups including:


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