How New Technology Can Promote Digital Inclusion

April 17, 2020 BY ELISA EDELBERG
Updated: May 21, 2020

With so many people across the globe currently staying home, digital inclusion is more important than ever before. Across the world, people are relying on the internet, communications, and technology to stay connected to family and friends, continue to work, keep up with school, shop for groceries, and so on. 

We were lucky to have Debra Ruh, Global Disability Inclusion Strategist and CEO of Ruh Global Impact, join us for a webinar to explore how emerging technologies can support people with disabilities if they are made accessible, and the repercussions, if they are not made accessible.

The Digital Divide and Digital Inclusion

woman watches video on her phone with her cat laying next to herIn the webinar, Tech4Good, Tech4All, and Digital Inclusion, Debra drives home that while the digital divide has shifted and changed over the years, it still exists. Moving toward digital inclusion, rather than a divide, is essential to all of us, and businesses are seeing this first hand during COVID-19. 

Today, businesses are experiencing the negative impacts on their employees and their businesses that are not accessible, making it evident that accessibility will actually benefit everyone – not only those with disabilities.

“[Digital inclusion] also allows us to thrive socially, economically. It encourages innovation and creativity. And it broadens opportunities.”

We All Win When We Come Together

People with disabilities add great value to our society. Debra shares that we need to make it easier for these people to be there and be included. Why? Debra explains that we all win when we come together and we use technologies in a way that benefits all of society. 

woman watches video on her phone and shares it with social networkWhile social responsibility, diversity, and accessibility should all be reason enough, digital inclusion is also good for your company’s bottom line and your brand’s image. It’s noticeable when brands do (and don’t) do this, as is clear through the examples Debra shares in this webinar. The community of people with disabilities is over a billion people strong. It’s an active community that is engaged and has strong purchasing power and representation matters. 

At Debra’s own company, Ruh Global Impact, they look at it from three pillars – the customer’s experience, the employee, and the brand. All three must be accessible.

How Technology Breaks Barriers

Advanced technologies can break down barriers and promote digital inclusion across the global community of people with disabilities, their families, and their friends. We’re seeing this in many ways, for example, driverless cars, 3D printing of prosthetics, smart glasses, and exoskeleton for people with spinal cord injuries.

man laughs while watching videoMany corporations are also stepping up to make a difference and make devices and tools that benefit everyone – Tech4Good, Tech4All – including some listed below.

  • Be My Eyes – This free app was created to make the world more accessible to people with low vision or who are blind.
  • Assistive Touch – This app allows people with mobility impairments or physical disabilities to operate a smartphone. This technology allows users to create virtual buttons for things like the home and back button, screenshot, or volume control, and power. This is critical in allowing people to use their devices themselves and hold on to their independence.
  • StorySign – StorySign brings books to life for deaf children to enjoy through artificial intelligence and augmented reality. 90% of children born deaf are born to hearing parents that don’t know sign language. 

These are just a few, and of course, social media has allowed us to talk to each other, as well as allowed corporations to have access to consumers with disabilities and employees with disabilities, and back and forth. 

So while there’s still a lot more that can be done, there is a lot of Tech4Good, Tech4All!

Learn more from Debra Ruh, and discover her other content in the full webinar, Tech4Good, Tech4All, and Digital Inclusion.

Watch the Full Webinar CTA

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