Stevie Wonder Speaks at CES

LAS VEGAS – Musician Stevie Wonder spoke here at CES about the need to make technology more accessible to people with disabilities.

“We want to see a time where the issue of technology being accessible to people with disabilities is not an issue that we have to discuss… but it’s just a natural, given fact” that everyone has equal access to technology, Wonder said at a panel event Tuesday (Jan. 6).

One technology that Wonder, who is blind, would like to use someday is a car, he added.

Mike May, president and CEO of Sendero Group, a company that makes navigation systems for blind people, discussed some of the difficulties he faces in using technology as a blind person. For example, the smartphone app that holds all of the information for the events of CES this year includes a navigation system to help attendees get from place to place. But the system is entirely visual; it shows a person’s current location as a blue dot and his or her destination as a red dot, toward which the person can navigate. A blind person would not be able to use this system.

In some cases, only small fixes are needed to make a technology more accessible to people with disabilities — such as testing an app to make sure it works with voice screen-reading systems for the blind, May said.

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