i3 | December 07, 2019

Why Accessibility Matters at CES

Steve Ewell

The CTA Foundation will host activities at CES 2020 highlighting the technologies that enable us to lead healthy and independent lives regardless of age or ability. As we look to this market opportunity, veteran CES attendees talked about the importance of accessibility at CES including:

Why is it important to have accessibility featured at CES?

Lane: The importance of having accessibility featured at CES cannot be overstated. It helps to educate the tech world on the importance of adopting accessibility features in their products. It also helps companies that have assistive tech to see how they fit in the consumer tech industry while staying true to their core market. There is no bigger stage than CES to showcase accessibility. One thing I would like to see from my colleagues in the media is to make sure that they stop by and see some of this amazing technology that helps the senior and the disabled community to be independent and live fuller lives. The social

Aspect of accessibility tech is something that needs to be preached from the mountain tops.

May: Most products are not fully usable by a blind consumer, so it is important that we highlight those products that are accessible in order for manufacturers to take note of this important customer segment.

Said: CES is shining a 2020 light on the importance of accessibility in consumer products and is a very important perspective that can add a competitive edge to any product and enhance its usability. CES is where innovation starts. I am a believer that only

when accessibility starts at the design stage will we close the gap between disability and mainstream. Otherwise the gap will

keep widening and we will never be able to catch-up with the rapidly changing technology.

How effective is it to bring disability advocacy organizations together with tech companies in roundtable discussions?

Lane: It is so important for them to be in attendance. This helps them to find out what technology is out there that can help the community. It also gives them an opportunity to talk with other like-minded organizations and tech companies. This can help in the education and implementation of assistive tech.

May: Bringing together the companies that focus on accessibility allows other manufacturers that wish to be accessible to learn best practices and to understand the tremendous value of their products to people who are blind or disabled.

Said: I totally agree and love the idea! I attended once, and it was a nice introduction to other key players in the industry. Although it’s important to have round tables, I’m not a fan of isolating disability discussions from the mainstream. I think it will be very effective and brilliant if we can immerse ourselves in the advanced technologies of all ability and all ages and learn from each other’s perspectives.

What types of technologies are you looking for at CES 2020?

Lane: I am looking forward to seeing assistive and adaptive technologies. I am looking to see the new strides in voice activation. When we have the human body as the interface this unlocks a world of potential for members of the senior and the disabled community. I would also like to see the advancements in wheelchairs. We have reached the point where we should see more technology integrated in power wheelchairs. Connected technologies that help medical professionals has always been very intriguing. It can provide better medical care and wellness for the patient. I also would like to see any advancement in assistive tech for rehabilitation and medical advances.

May: My favorite discoveries at CES are the products I am not looking for, the fun surprises, which I will buy when released. I also enjoy noting products, which other blind people will want to hear about in my annual post-CES webinar.

Said: I believe smart packaging will change lives when it comes to the blind and the visually impaired and the issue of print packaging. 

Nov/Dec 2019 i3 Issue Cover

Subscribe to i3 Magazine

i3, the flagship magazine from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®, focuses on innovation in technology, policy and business as well as the entrepreneurs, industry leaders and startups that grow the consumer technology industry. Subscriptions to i3 are available free to qualified participants in the consumer electronics industry.