A Personal Journey
As the CEO of Pneuma Solutions and a blind individual, my journey through the world of technology is one of hope, challenge, and advocacy. The unveiling of the Humane AI Pin initially filled me with excitement, but this quickly turned to dismay when I realized the lack of information on its accessibility features. This isn’t just a Humane issue; it reflects a wider trend in the tech industry where the needs of the visually impaired are often overlooked.
The Industry’s Oversight
One of the most significant oversights in the tech industry, including by leaders like Sam Altman and Jony Ive, is the lack of clear, upfront documentation about new accessibility features. Too often, updates affecting accessibility feel like afterthoughts, leaving the visually impaired community to scramble for information and adapt to changes without guidance. This approach is not just inconvenient; it’s dismissive of our needs and experiences.
- Collaboration and Innovation: Altman, through his work with OpenAI, collaborated with Be My Eyes to create Be My AI, engaging tens of thousands of blind people worldwide. This initiative exemplifies the immense value of including our community in the development process. The feedback significantly enhanced the product, demonstrating how vital our involvement is. So, why then, in the case of the AI Pin, has this inclusive approach been seemingly abandoned?
- Apple’s Legacy: Ive, with his background at Apple, should similarly understand the importance of integrating accessibility from the beginning. Apple’s commitment to accessibility has been a beacon for others to follow, yet this commitment seems to have been overlooked in his current projects.
A Moment of Realization
The revelation of the AI Pin was a poignant moment for me, as it was for many in the visually impaired community. The excitement of a new product, followed by the realization that we might not be able to use it, is a feeling all too familiar and deeply saddening.
The Path Forward
The solution isn’t complex. It involves genuine dialogue, respect, and inclusive practices. Engaging with us through focus groups, actively participating in our communities, and considering our feedback are not just acts of courtesy – they are necessities. Our community is more than just consumers; we have a vibrant developer community with expertise in accessibility design. The saying “Nothing about us without us” is our plea for equal consideration and respect.
Engagement and Respect
My message to the tech industry is clear: We are here, we matter, and we have much to contribute. Engage with us, respect us, and include us from the beginning.
The future of technology must be accessible for all, and it starts with valuing every voice. As Aretha Franklin famously sang, all we’re asking for is a little respect – R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Let’s make that the foundation of our approach to technology development.