I tend to shy away from covering disability tech for fear of being pigeonholed. However, my ego got the better of me last week when I was asked to be a late replacement for Saul Klein as moderator for an assistive tech event held at Campus London.
Titled ‘Redefining Disability’ and organised by Israeli charity Beit Issie Shapiro (BIS) and Google, the panel showcased important work being done to make technology more accessible for people with disabilities, something that Apple recently highlighted in a must-watch video
shown during its new MacBook Pro launch last week.
I opened the evening with a personal anecdote about how technology has redefined my own disability by creating a more level playing field in many areas of my life, including my career (see my email
to Steve Jobs on the topic).
I also drew a fun analogy with the 1993 New Yorker cartoon “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog
” explaining that the dog in the cartoon could easily be a person with a disability, when and if technology is made inclusive.
But most of all the event was a call-to-arms for developers and entrepreneurs to make their apps accessible (see universal design efforts by Google
) and to build new and innovative assistive tech. The so-called Purple Pound – the collective spending power of people with disabilities – is said to be worth well over £80 billion in the UK alone.
Bonus: Which D-list London startup founder was once overheard accusing me of playing the disability card? Slightly ludicrous, I know.