Assistive – Week 1 responses by Bruce

Response to the readings and videos:

They don’t want to be considered different. I never thought about this problem till I watched Stella Young’s TED talk and realize I am one of those people getting used to the “inspiration porn” given by the disabled. Thinking back to the dates when I was in elementary school, teachers would play speeches by “inspirational” disabled speakers. We had related stories in textbooks. We were taught to be respectful to the disabled and learn to be mentally strong like them. Gradually, we are putting them to a place described by Stella Young. Now thinking in their position, doing this kind of things would not help them feel good, but only hurt their feelings. Like the TED video, the article “Paralympics Least Favorite Word: Inspiration” illustrates one problem that we usually ignore: calling them inspirations. Becoming tens of millions of people’s “inspiration” only focuses on one’s disability, which is very annoying. The worst thing is everything normal to anyone could be branded as special for them, which becomes annoying daily. Those who think themselves as no different from others are reminded as specially treated through the word “inspiration” and other weird act from people around – even if they meant to show kindness.

That’s their identity too. I was shocked many years ago when I saw the blade running prosthetics on the TV. Those prosthetics are not only helping runners with leg deficiencies compete against others, but they are also made of high-tech materials and look super futuristic. Aimee Mullen’s 12 pairs of legs are also making me into thinking what if we could make our body parts swappable for different applications. That would not only fix the “disabled” problem, but also augment the initial ability of human beings.

But wait, aren’t we being augmented by the technologies we use? “All technology is assistive technology”. Everyone is different from each other. Are they disabled just because their bodies are different from the majority? Are they disabled because they can’t turn on the air conditioner? Or is the air conditioner being not well-designed? The air conditioner automatically turns on when I get to my house. Am I disabled? After all, everyone would benefit from technologies, no matter who we are, how our body parts function. What is the difference then?

I read about a girl on wheelchair responding to the question “What is good about Shanghai?” on Zhihu, she described her day living by herself in Shanghai. (https://www.zhihu.com/question/21862436/answer/130986256) Comparing to other cities in China, Shanghai is one of the most accessible cities. However, if one tries to walk with eyes closed, it’s still very hard to get around. What about other cities? Only if we raise our awareness of universal design could make the world we are living in more accessible and no different to the disabled.

 

Task: Listening to music on one of the most popular music app “Netease Cloud Music” on Android using Talkback

Unlabeled buttons everywhere. There is no single button labeled throughout the app, even in the most important interface: the player. A quick scan through the accessibility shows the problem. Although this problem is raised two years ago by a representative from a visual impaired foundation in China as they want to use the app daily without needing to remember those “unlabeled button 1” thing. But the development team just ignore the request since they are not the major user group. It won’t take a lot of time to label the buttons, but the lack of awareness led to this result. I could still remember the day when Uber quit Chinese market and Didi released a new Uber app after acquisition, which means the only car-hailing app friendly to screen readers disappeared. This news report let many people know how VoiceOver and TalkBack works and raising the question in front of people in China for the first time. People soon examined many other apps and figured out not many of them support screen readers. Although companies like Microsoft have very strict rules on coding for assistive technologies, many others simply aren’t aware of the issue. Hopefully, one day this most accessible assistive technology could become more accessible.

Everyday Use of Tech forms

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