IBM creates new role: Chief Accessibility Officer

Wednesday, 23 July 2014 17:49pm

IBM has recently named Frances West, a 25-year IBM veteran, as the company’s first Chief Accessibility Officer.

As the former director of IBM Research's Human Ability and Accessibility Center, West’s new role involves working on the technology company’s policies and practices on accessibility and collaboration with other groups.

The company has stated that accessible technology such as text-to-speech, voice recognition, personalisation tools and applications to improve access are currently being integrated into its accessible technology plan.

IBM has acknowledged that there are more than one billion people with disabilities worldwide for whom there is a growing requirement to make technology accessible. The company acknowledges that ageing populations and people with language, learning and literacy challenges can also be assisted by more accessible technology.

Whether the creation of West's role will encourage other techology companies to also appoint senior roles to oversee accessibility is still uncertain. However, in a blog post, West wrote that she believes accessibility will become a universal consideration across the public and private sectors.

“Incorporating accessibility and choice into everything we do—and engaging our partners in business, government and academia to advance accessible design, standards and policy —will bridge the silos that have isolated too many for too long,” West wrote.

“As we work to extend human capabilities through smarter design and greater accessibility, we also will strengthen our brand and forge new relationships and improve the quality of life.”

West has previously served on the boards of directors for organisations such as the American Association of People with Disabilities and the Assistive Technology Industry Association.

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