-by Erin Taylor, Director of Tech Access, United Spinal
In honor of Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD), United Spinal is proud to highlight our partnership with Comcast to address the digital divide experienced by individuals with mobility and dexterity limitations through our Tech Access Initiative.
The Tech Access Initiative offers technology industry leaders like Comcast the opportunity to incorporate the lived experiences of consumers with disabilities into the development of future technologies. The Initiative combines two key communities: United Spinal’s Tech Access Group, made up of users, testers, and influencers who are wheelchair users, and its Tech Access Council, which includes corporate partners like Comcast and 16 other industry leaders in tech and connected health. The groups come together for regular subject-specific discussions where actionable feedback and industry asks are directly communicated to stakeholders with the power and resources to generate solutions.
Since its inception two years ago, the Tech Access Initiative has grown to 100 users with a broad spectrum of abilities, making the group a unique asset to corporate R&D programs, including focus groups and surveys. This Initiative serves as a model for how industry leaders conduct market research, generate authentic consumer and patient insights guided by DEI principles, and translate them into concrete initiatives that drive growth and innovation. To quote Comcast’s Vice President of Accessibility, Tom Wlodkowski, “One of the many reasons that partners like United Spinal play such a key role is in bringing voices of customers with disabilities to the heart of the product design and development process. Involving United Spinal members in our Xfinity Adaptive Remote web app User Experience Research has improved the product and evolved the way we think about design.”
The possibilities are endless; technology is integrated into every part of our lives. But when disabled people do not have access to technology, it creates inequities, and they are left behind. The Tech Access Initiative is here to ensure that does not happen.
The Tech Access Initiative is currently seeking wheelchair users to get involved, whether new to tech, a pro, or somewhere in between.