Oct. 2, 2019
4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
Oct. 2, 2019
4 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.
WeWork Metropolitan Square
1440 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20010
On October 2nd, the Family Online Safety Institute hosted a panel discussion on Inclusion, Accessibility and Tech. The panel was moderated by Stephen Balkam, CEO of FOSI, and featured expert speakers Kate Brunick of Zero to Three; Michael Phillips of AARP; Gerard Williams of the Federal Communications Commission, and Terry Jackson of the Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs.
Kate Brunick opened the discussion, speaking about the changes to the American Academy of Pediatrics’ screen time recommendations, and how families can utilize adaptive technology to enhance the lives of children with disabilities and improve offline personal interactions. Brunick discussed the use of technology in accurately assessing child developmental benchmarks, and particularly highlighted the benefits of accessibility in gaming, which allows all children to have age-typical social interactions that they may have previously been excluded from.
Michael Phillips discussed how technology helps the elderly population overall, but highlighted the barriers to access that seniors and their caretakers face when interacting with technology into daily life, such as the confidence to use technology without worry, and general comprehension of complex devices. Phillips also spoke to the benefits that many seniors experience when using devices to counter social isolation and mobility issues, as well as the pros of improving telehealth resources. Phillips noted the increasing importance of trust, awareness, and education that is necessary when encouraging seniors’ use of IOT home devices, AI, and health-related technologies.
Gerard Williams explained the FCC requirement for telecommunication devices to be “accessible, usable, and compatible” for people with disabilities. Williams highlighted the need for user customization in order to adapt products or services to best meet a specific individual’s needs. Williams provided a variety of examples and challenges of accessible and adaptive technology from his personal experience within a bilingual (ASL and English) family.
Terry Jackson discussed the ways the Department of Education is increasing educational technology for students with disabilities, particularly with accessible books and digital content. Jackson also spoke about schools who are pulling technology out of the classroom and instead how districts can tailor their technology to sustain and fit the individual needs of teachers and students.
The panelists explained their reactions to the technology backlash paradox, coming to the overall conclusion that stronger and better awareness is needed for the beneficial and inclusive use of technology. They discussed the need for companies to prioritize accessibility and inclusion by design when creating new products and services at an initial level. The panel concluded with reflections about how industry can improve user experience for all types of people and levels of ability - such as conducting focus testing for users with disabilities, thinking about design with different audiences in mind, opening products to all user markets, and including uncomplicated engineering that is not only accessible, but intuitive and usable.
Patricia Vance, ESRB
Stephen Balkam, FOSI
Michael Phillips, AARP
Gerard Williams, FCC
Terry Jackson, Department of Education
Kate Brunick, Zero to Three