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A License to Learn

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A woman in a wheelchair at a library with a stack of books in her lap
A license to learn

This week we explored accessibility and assistive technologies. It's a topic near and dear to my heart as I am dyslexic, and I've had the pleasure of working on various accessibility projects to help others over the years. It's also something that affects us all, if not today, eventually.

As we age, we lose mobility, vision, hearing, and mental processing capabilities. Most of us experience other events that affect our abilities from time to time, such as broken bones or illnesses. And all of us experience situational accessibility needs. For example, if you're sitting in a busy waiting room, you may need closed captions. If you're carrying some heavy packages, you may need the automatic door opener. If you're pushing a stroller, you're going to need that curb cutout.

A wheelchair ramp to a paved road
Meant for some, useful for all

The reason I point this out is not to diminish the daily struggles of those that live with permanent states of blindness, deafness, muteness, immobility, or learning difficulties. Rather, it's to say we're all in need of accessibility and assistive technologies. This isn't something that only affects a small percentage of people. So, we shouldn't give it only a small percentage of our attention. Accessibility is an issue of quality for us all.

Another reason this is near and dear to my heart is because I love technology, and all technology is in some way a tool to improve access. It gives us access to skills we don't possess. It gives us access to greater productivity with the skills we do have. It helps us share what we do with others. It helps us find others that share our loves. The internet and all the tools that have arisen for it have transformed just about every aspect of our lives over the past few decades. They have made possible things that once were inconceivable.

A collection of smart watches
The world wrapped around our wrists

We now carry computers in our hands or wear them on our wrists daily. We literally have a storehouse of the world's knowledge at our fingertips. We can speak to just about anyone on the planet at any time of day or night. We can speak entirely different languages, yet communicate with one another. We can all be apprentices to the same masters and we can each be masters to others to share our expertise and experiences.

All these technologies have given us all a license to learn just about anything we want. Because of that, we truly owe it to everyone to make sure we create as equitable a world as we can by making all web content as accessible as possible. Thanks to technology tools, it takes very little time and effort to improve the accessibility of multimedia files, such as audio, video, and slideshow presentations. The payoff for our efforts is that we build more and more avenues for everyone to reach their goals and live out their purposes. And in the process, we give ourselves more options for whatever needs each moment brings.

Truly, accessibility is a win-win for everyone.

I wish everyone that developed content understood these things. Accessibility isn't something we should leave until the end of our projects. This isn't something to serve a small percentage of our learners. Assistive technologies assist us all.

Weekly Wrap-Up

A laptop keyboard
Keyboards exist because someone struggled to write

I use assistive technologies all the time and you probably do, too. Do you have an electric toothbrush? Ever listen to an audio book? Do you text? We are surrounded by technology that enhances our lives that was originally conceived for someone with a disability. I don't know about you, but I find that to be such a beautiful thing.

Throughout history, someone saw someone else struggling. Maybe it was someone they loved. Maybe it was a total stranger. Regardless, they looked at the way it was and thought of a way to remove the struggle. In the process, they helped far more than they ever intended. Our world is truly elegant in its design. Helping others has a lovely way of helping ourselves in more ways than we can sometimes fully appreciate.


All images contained within this post are courtesy of Media from Wix.

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1 Comment

Nov 14, 2023

This was absolutely beautiful and something I had never considered.

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