What is accessible technology and why is it important? To better understand the value of accessible technology, it helps to understand who is using it. Around the world, around 1.5 billion people have lost hearing in at least one ear, and around 430 million of them have disabling hearing loss. By 2020, it was estimated that 7.8 billion people were legally blind around the world.
Accessible technology covers a range of devices that help people with disabilities like hearing loss and blindness function in society and improve their quality of life. Those are just two of the many disabilities that can make it hard for someone to communicate with others, hold a job, or even gain an education. This technology can help someone with no use of the arms or hands type on a computer, move a cursor, or turn the pages of a book on an e-reader.
It includes things like text-to-speech software, talking devices like smart displays and speakers, captioning phones, portable closed captioning devices, Braille displays, screen readers, and eye-tracking computer systems and devices. It allows them to control things using their voice or through eye movements.
As accessible technology helps people complete tasks like anyone else at home, at school, or in the workplace, it becomes vital at ensuring people are included and appreciated for their talents. Businesses have to be inclusive and meet federal ADA regulations in the workplace, and that often means incorporating these essential devices.
Human resources and onboarding cannot disqualify a candidate because they’re disabled. That’s a violation of employment laws. If someone is fully qualified and just needs braille displays, you have to accommodate them in order to comply with regulations, as long as it’s not going to cause your company financial hardship.
Examples of Accessible Technology
What are some examples of accessible technology that are used at home, school, and workplaces? Here are a few that are commonly used by people with disabilities.
- A Braille Printer
Most people see a printer and read the print on the sheet of paper. A blind person isn’t able to read print, that’s the point of Braille, but a normal printer doesn’t print the raised bumps that create Braille symbols.
A Braille printer uses heat on specialized foam paper to print Braille. If a worker needs to use it, these printers have voice control to ensure someone who cannot see the instruction booklet can still use it for printing.
- A Braille Laptop or Computer
An all-in-one Braille laptop has a Braille keyboard and NVDA screen reader or it can be connected to a Braille display for a blind person to be able to read the results. It’s a new technology, but the amount of information it will contain is going to require care when e-recycling it or selling it.
Braille computers are also possible and include a Braille keyboard and Braille display.
- Captioned Phones
A person with hearing loss isn’t going to be able to hear a caller, but a captioned phone has a display that provides a text version of what someone is saying. It takes those text strings and puts them on the phone’s display for the user to read and respond to. As the text that’s sent may contain a lot of personal information, data destruction is essential.
- Eye-Tracking and Movement Tracking Devices
Are you familiar with Stephen Hawking? He was diagnosed with a motor neurone disease at the age of 21, which caused paralysis. He had a Ph.D. in applied mathematics and didn’t let his inability to move his body keep him from living life. Instead, he used a speech-generating device that used his hand movements and eventually cheek muscle movement to communicate with others.
There are similar devices that use eye movements to communicate. The technology tracks someone’s eye movements like a cursor to make it easier to get to the right place on a computer screen or tablet.
With the Value of Accessible Technology Also Comes Risk
You have to remember that there is also personal information that must be protected. Items like SSNs, phone numbers, credit cards, dates of birth, and bank account information may be stored on the devices. When you no longer need accessible technology or are upgrading the technology you have, you can’t just give it away or sell it without thinking about what it’s storing.
In the wrong hands, personal identifiable information (PII) could be sold on the black market, used for identity theft, or held for ransom. And, if it’s revealed that the loss of PII came from your improper ITAD procedures, you face lawsuits, government fines, and even jail time.
How Is Accessible Technology’s Data Destroyed?
The best way to ensure private data is destroyed is through shredding. But, shredding cuts the device up into tiny pieces that are sorted and recycled for new uses. However, shredding isn’t suitable for devices that can be refurbished and have the remaining value of the item reclaimed.
Other data destruction options include:
- Magnetic erasure (degaussing) – Magnets are used to destroy the information on a magnetic storage device, which isn’t useful on SSD.
- Data wiping – There is software that overrides the information with random strings of numbers, which wipes the data, but it may not be enough.
- Physical destruction – You could also take the hard drive or storage device and take a hammer to it to destroy it and keep it from ever being used again.
Can you do this work yourself? Sure, but you have to consider if you know exactly what you need to do to be in compliance with the law. If you don’t, you can run into trouble. It’s better to arrange ITAD services with a professional.
When choosing a partner for your data destruction needs, make sure you’re choosing a facility with R2, eSteward, and NAID certifications. These three certifications are awarded to facilities that pass surprise inspections and assessments to ensure they put the environment and staff safety first, recycle and destroy data within the U.S. and never send things overseas, and comply with federal laws on electronics recycling and data destruction.
ERI is your partner in ethical, responsible data destruction. When there is even the slightest chance that accessible technology has private information stored in the hard drive or might have it but you’re not 100% certain, you need to make sure your client, employee, or patient’s information is protected from theft.
With ERI, we’ll come to your office or have your electronics sent to our facility using our trusted shipper. We’ll destroy the data and either shred and recycle or refurbish the device so that another disabled person can use it. You’ll have real-time tracking as soon as the device or devices leave your office, and you have a certificate to prove the data destruction took place.
Give ERI a call or send us an email. We’ll let you know what level of data destruction you need and help you ensure the privacy of the people who are important to your business.