Dedicated to Improving the Lives of Blind and Visually Impaired People

Rebranding Accessibility Options as Customization: Features That Help Everyone

by Jaime Rodriguez, RDPFS Intern

As a person with a congenital visual impairment, I have experienced technology and accessibility as part of my life since before I can remember. That is what led me to this opportunity, writing for the Reader’s Digest Partners for Sight Foundation bulletin, and it allows me to participate in a world and in activities that are made for the sighted, and so often exclude people who are visually impaired. Many of us in the blind and visually impaired community credit our devices and accessibility options with our ability to live freer, more independent lives. However, the accessibility options that we rely on, such as Assistant, Dark Mode, or Live Caption, can be useful to all users, and disability-friendly technology improves the experience for everyone. This is why we must begin to think of accessibility as customization of technology. Much like curb-cuts, made to create ramps for wheelchair access to sidewalks, have benefitted many other people (such as those pushing strollers or shopping carts, bicyclists, and skateboarders) and have become standard, we too can think this way about accessibility options. Rebranding “accessibility options” as “customization” means not only increasing the availability of disability-friendly options to improve the lives of people with disabilities, it would also benefit everyone. For more information, check out the article by Nicola Yap, in Think With Google: Why we should rethink accessibility as customization.