Here at Wraparound Base Camp, we like to keep up to speed on all things tech, this is the world our children will be entering.
We follow developments and growth in large and fast growing Tech companies, those such as Wakelet, Social Chain, UK Fast, all also based in Greater Manchester and are fascinated by the marketing revolution that is taking place within the digital technology space.
BUT: and there is always a BUT:
A large global organisation, (who due to confidentiality can’t be named) approached us to help them develop their games and apps to be more accessible to children and young people with disabilities and special needs. Through delivering training and working closely with their UX team (User Experience) who develop these games, through testing these games with specific groups of children who have specific needs we are getting there and it is opening up some very interesting discussions across the whole organisation.
One of the biggest shocks to us was how little accessibility was even considered in this Tech world, simple adjustments like slowing down the speed of speech would mean children and young people with language processing difficulties would be better able to access the game. The ability to change the settings, change the background colour, adjust the noise and clutter of the information on the screen mean that children and young people who have sensory issues could have a better experience.
Tech companies and Tech in general, in fairness tries to cater for those who have a hearing difficulty by putting in subtitles, that is not difficult to achieve, but what about those who have a visual impairment, what about those who do not have English as their first language. When we set out to this organisation the difficulties associated with playing a game if your first language is not English they were amazed they had not thought about this before. Simple adjustments can make a huge difference.
Children and young people may also have physical difficulties, they may not be able to manipulate thing on a screen well, even be able to hold an Ipad, they may use eye gaze technology these are all barriers to them accessing this great big world of the Digital revolution.
Some of the teenagers we have worked closely with who have speech and language difficulties find accessing the likes of fast paced, twitter, snap chat, difficult they struggle to keep up, therefore they don’t bother.
WHY SHOULD TECH COMPANIES CARE!!
What sparked this post off was reading The Social Chains latest post on Millennials. We have recently done some number crunching on national figures of children and young people with SEND, the conclusion is that, on average there are 4 children in every classroom in England who have SEND a total of 1300,000 students have some form of identified special need and there are many more whose issues remain undiagnosed.
Tech companies in particular, if they want to make sure they are readily accessible to all of their Generation Z coming up behind them need to make sure they are catering for this group of youngsters, otherwise they risk losing a huge slice of the available pie, but also alienating a whole stream of young people who would perhaps benefit the most.
So final words:
If you are in a tech company, if you develop digital marketing, apps, games – anything along those lines. Think for a moment about those children and young people who may have:
- Physical difficulties
- English as an additional language
- Language processing problems
- Sensory issues
- Cognitive problems
Are you making your products available to all, have you even thought about it?
We have all been on a steep learning curve working with this particular organisation but we have the passion to want to develop tech that everyone regardless of abilities can use and we are positive we can make a difference.
We would be interested to hear from companies/ organisations whether accessibility is/is not a factor you take into account.
Over and Out!