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Partners in Accessibility: CTA Foundation

11/10/2023

Many of the accessibility initiatives that we prioritize at Samsung – whether it’s advancing inclusive design, improving visibility enhancements, or creating hearing-assistive tools – are strengthened through partnerships and collaborative efforts with reputable, knowledgeable, and innovative brands, advocacy groups, and industry associations. Working hand-in-hand with these like-minded accessibility allies, we are harnessing our scale, global presence, and pioneering spirit to create a more accessible and equitable future. As part of our “Partners in Accessibility” series, Samsung’s esteemed partner, the CTA Foundation, shares their insights on the importance of unparalleled cooperation in addressing accessibility challenges and fostering inclusivity.

Name: Stephen Ewell
Title: Executive Director
Partner: CTA Foundation, a public, national foundation affiliated with the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®
Years working together: 11 years
Partnership focus: Technology enhancing the lives of older adults and people with disabilities

Stephen Ewell speaking at a CTA Foundation

Stephen Ewell (standing) at the CTA Foundation Disability Employment Roundtable, October 18, 2023.

1. What does accessibility mean to the CTA Foundation, and how does the foundation define it in the context of its mission?

The CTA Foundation defines accessibility as the means to facilitate and enhance the lives of seniors and people with disabilities through technology. Our mission is to advance the discourse on how technology can benefit these demographics by collaborating with industry, nonprofits, and other stakeholders. We aim to promote the development and adoption of tech solutions that empower older adults and individuals with disabilities, ensuring that these individuals can fully participate in and benefit from the digital age.
In essence, accessibility, in the context of the CTA Foundation’s mission, is about breaking down barriers and creating opportunities for these groups to leverage technology for a better quality of life.

A blurry vision goggle simulation

A blurry vision goggle simulation of what Relumino Mode may look like to people with visual impairment

2. What are the key accessibility goals of the CTA Foundation, and how is the nonprofit working to achieve these objectives?

Some of our key accessibility goals are:

  • Promoting Inclusive Technology: The CTA Foundation strives to ensure that technology is designed, developed, and distributed in a way that is inclusive, catering to the unique needs and challenges of seniors and people with disabilities.
  • Advancing Awareness: The CTA Foundation aims to raise awareness and understanding of the importance of accessible technology among the tech industry, policymakers, and the public.
  • Facilitating Collaboration: The CTA Foundation fosters collaboration between industry leaders, nonprofits, and key stakeholders to drive innovation and develop accessible technology solutions.

To achieve these objectives, we have our three core pillars of activity:

  1. Convene: The CTA Foundation brings together key stakeholders to build relationships and hold dialogs to advance our mission. One example is the Disability Employment Roundtable recently hosted at the Samsung Solutions Center in Washington, D.C.
  2. Promote Innovation: Through a series of contests and award programs, the CTA Foundation recognizes technologies that enhance the lives of older adults and people with disabilities, which, in turn, draws the attention of other companies interested in doing the same. Examples include the Eureka Park Accessibility Contest and the CES Pitch Competition.
  3. Fund: As a charitable foundation, the CTA Foundation supports nonprofit organizations across the United States that are using our industry’s technologies to enhance the lives of older adults and people with disabilities.
3. What is the CTA Foundation’s perspective on how the tech industry, including companies like Samsung, contributes to advancing accessibility and fostering inclusivity?

Samsung and other companies across the tech sector play a critical role in advancing accessibility and fostering inclusivity. From our perspective, these industry players have the potential to drive significant change through innovation, resources, and influence. By collaborating with CTA members like Samsung, advocacy groups, and other key stakeholders, the CTA Foundation believes that the tech industry can leverage its scale, global presence, and innovative capabilities to develop and promote inclusive and accessible solutions. This cooperation is essential in addressing accessibility challenges and creating a more accessible and equitable future, ultimately benefiting seniors and people with disabilities.

The CTA Foundation values partnerships with tech industry leaders to drive these initiatives forward, recognizing that collective efforts are essential for meaningful progress in accessibility and inclusivity. Samsung has been an incredible partner across our activities, including meeting annually with our disability leaders at CES – the CTA-produced technology trade show held in Las Vegas each January – to showcase the latest in accessible technologies and hear feedback from the community. We also appreciate Samsung Electronics America Senior Vice President of Public Policy John Godfrey’s involvement as he was a founding Trustee of the Foundation and served as the Foundation Chair, underscoring the company’s commitment to these important matters.

4. For National Disability Employment Awareness Month in October, the foundation hosted a Disability Employment Roundtable in collaboration with Samsung and others in Washington, D.C. What can you tell us about the primary aims and expected outcomes of the roundtable?

The primary aim of the Disability Employment Roundtable was to unite industry leaders, advocates, and experts in a discussion focused on advancing inclusive employment opportunities for individuals with disabilities. It built off a successful program that has been run at for many years at CES and brought that conversation to a D.C. audience. The roundtable aimed to foster insightful discussions, share success stories, and explore innovative technologies that enhance workplace inclusivity. The event was a phenomenal opportunity to build relationships and partnerships that will open doors to greater opportunities for technology to improve the lives of people with disabilities and create new career pathways. It was a platform for participants to contribute their perspectives and insights, ultimately shaping the future of inclusive employment.

samsung-tv-monitors-seecolors-mode-accessibility

SeeColors, an accessibility feature integrated into 2023 Samsung TVs and monitors, helps people with color vision deficiency.

5. In the context of this roundtable, how is technology playing a role in making workplaces more inclusive for people with disabilities, and what potential impact does this have on their career opportunities?

New technologies built into our smartphones, laptops, and other devices are reshaping the workplace by offering accessibility features and tools that cater to diverse needs and enable people with disabilities to perform tasks more effectively and independently. Smarter AI solutions are also allowing apps and products to adapt to users, creating greater ease of use. This increased inclusivity has the potential to significantly impact career opportunities for people with disabilities by breaking down barriers and providing equal access to employment. Consumer technologies are incorporating more accessible features into their products, and the economies of scale of our industry allows greater access and affordability to many of these solutions. The group also shared the importance of testing and ensuring accessibility of these features before deploying them at companies to ensure access for employees. The group also discussed the structures companies and organizations can build to support employees with disabilities in addition to the technological solutions.

6. Lastly, what are some practical steps that companies within the tech space can take to promote disability employment, accessibility, and “Tech for All”?

Tech companies can promote disability employment and accessibility by…

  • prioritizing inclusive design in product development to ensure technology accessibility,
  • actively seeking to hire individuals with disabilities and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion,
  • regularly testing products and services for accessibility while promptly addressing any identified issues,
  • providing employees with accessibility training to enhance awareness and knowledge,
  • collaborating with disability advocacy groups and experts to gain insights and improve accessibility efforts,
  • and advocating for policies that support disability employment and the implementation of accessibility standards in the tech industry.

These are just some of the many ways tech companies can support accessibility goals, but there’s so much more that can be done to create a more inclusive and accessible tech industry.

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