On day 11 of our special advent series on Tech for Good reality checks, let’s bust an interesting myth: technology is not inherently accessible.
There’s a common misconception that new technology automatically equates to improved accessibility, but this isn't always true. For instance, businesses and local authorities who need to cut costs are pressured to move their services online, asking customers to navigate websites or interact with chatbots for customer service. This change makes some services challenging or impossible for people with disabilities to use. Plus let’s be honest, who the fuck likes chatbots.
We feel that the Tech for Good movement is part of the problem here - tech companies have been telling us for so long that technology is a powerful force for good that it’s hard for people who work in other areas to understand the tradeoffs. Unless decision makers understand that digital accessibility doesn’t come for free, they might not actually realise they’re delivering a service that excludes people.
Part of it is also about how Tech for Good is ‘branded’. For example, if something is branded as a vegan product, people tend to make positive assumptions about the brand - they might think of them as forward-thinking companies with modern hiring techniques who invest in their local communities.
We feel like there’s a similar perception of Tech for Good as well. It must be good, right? It’s in the name! Due to this, many people assume that just because something falls under the Tech for Good ‘brand’, it must be accessible as well as a necessary component of the ‘good’ in Tech for Good.
We need to shift our perspective and understand that accessibility must be an integral part of tech design, not an add-on. And that's only achieved when it's designed with empathy and inclusivity from the start.
Let's push for a tech world where accessibility is the norm, not the exception. Because good technology should be usable by everyone.