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Robert Pearson

Accessible Media


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04/02/2013

Making Media Most Widely Available to Users of All Abilities


With an increasing number of media materials being readily available in the digital ecosphere, it’s time we redefine the very idea of accessible content, especially from the point of view of inclusion for users of all abilities.

It occurred to me recently as I uploaded a video to YouTube of my 15-month old daughter being cute, and linked to it from within the website domain bearing her name that perhaps my sharing habits will one day result in her not being so pleased about what I was doing. Yet, I predict that at the time she does bring it up, I will use the argument that I am ensuring that this video of her being cute is easily accessible. Perhaps, not in the traditional sense of being accessible to persons with disabilities, but rather it is readily accessible for consumption when she decides to browse the video on her Smartphone or some future technological device she might use – foldable paper screens, a digital interface on the fridge - to playback the video as a trip down memory lane.

Two children dancing

Image: Two children holding hands and dancing

In a way, the physical size of media materials detailing her life is actually shrinking, while the amount of media detailing her history is increasing and becoming more easily accessible with the increasing number of platforms and networks where one can share media-related material. This YouTube video is the modern day version of a home movie on a VHS video tape. No longer is it that a few dozen plastic cassette tapes are stacked on a bookshelf or beside a television for viewing at a later time. Now, hundreds of high definition recordings – either video or audio - can be stored on a device that is half the size of one of those tapes, and at a fraction of the cost that we would have otherwise spent buying an empty tape. Is it advancement? Does having significantly increased amounts of accessible media only a click away, increase our consumption of it? Is there a purpose in sending this material out to live in a virtual world? It is likely that a little girl in a dozen or so years from now will have the best answer to that question.

Some might say that having more easily accessible media consuming less physical space means that due to its increased volume it is unlikely that any of that media will be consumed at all because there is so much of it! We all know about information overload. Certainly, this is a logical argument and one that speaks towards a need to redefine the idea of media accessibility: what are the materials that we want to put out there, who are the persons likely to consume this content, how do we ensure its accessibility (either to persons with disabilities or without), and what are the resources we require to plan this?

As with everything that deals with content that is published for public consumption, it’s your audience who are best placed to answer the above questions, especially when it comes to defining your requirements for providing accessibility. This philosophy fits perfectly with the very definition of accessibility, which is the degree to which a product, device, service, or environment is available to as many people as possible. As a proud father, I will continue to compile my daughter’s life stages through the media at our disposal and work to ensure that it is accessible in both the contexts: of availability and on the principles of universal design. Personal experiences are sometimes the best guideposts for setting professional, public and universal standards of excellence. Fatherhood is certainly one of them.

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Related Resources

News: Technology as a Tool of Inclusion | View News Archive.

Blog: We All Experience Technology Differently | Read Lucy Greco's Blog.

Publication: UNESCO Broadband Commission: Education, Technology and Broadband - Advancing the Education for All Agenda | Download free PDF.

Event: ReaTech 2013 - International Fair of Technology and Accessibility Rehabilitation - April 18-21, São Paulo, Brazil | More Details on the Event.

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• Accessibility Online: A Neglected Frontier for People with Disabilities

• Nominations Open for U.S. FCC Chairman’s Award for Advancement in Accessibility (AAA)

• UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Address

• Accessibility Summit 2014: Web and Mobile Accessibility, Online Event


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