Covid-19 has taught us many things but one of the most important lessons has been finding ways to keep in touch with others so that we do not feel so isolated. Digital technology can help us with this, but it is challenging to find that solution that works best for each of us.

Dr Manisha Amin, the chief strategist and visionary at not-for-profit social enterprise group, Centre for Inclusive Design, says it is essential for everyone to be able to participate online as that has become our new normal. Talking about people with disabilities, she says it is less about why people living with disabilities should be connects, but rather, why shouldn’t they be? This also applies to all of us in this ‘new normal’. Some suggestions are:

1. Zoom is ideal for those who have hearing or visual impairment. Zoom offers closed captioning options, automatic transcripts and keyboard shortcuts. It also allows for a tool called FX Sound enhancer to be added in to allow a vocal boost for high-quality audio.

2. One to one video calls, such as those offered by Apple FaceTime are well suited to those who communicate using sign language or have other physical challenges.

3. Hard-of-hearing users are likely to benefit from the automatic captions that are available as an option in Google Meet.

4. Apple’s Live Listen lets you fine-tune your Made for iPhone hearing aids to help you hear more clearly, while its Switch Control functionality is an assistive technology that lets you use built-n features as well s a joystick, or other adaptive devices to control what’s on your screen.

Manisha says Covid-19 has taught us that if we design for people often left behind, we design for everyone. ‘From captioning and having the option to see people’s faces, to technology that is simple to use and doesn’t compromise privacy. Just by working with diverse communities of real users we can make the world of difference.’

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