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Communications of the ACM

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Making the Field of Computing More Inclusive


Making the Field of Computing More Inclusive, illustrative photo

Credit: Kutlayev Dmitry, Crystal Butler

Applied computer science is concerned with the development of algorithms, applications, software, services, methods and measures, and hardware and devices. Excellent work continues to be done to make information technology accessible and usable for people with disabilities. For example, a number of familiar consumer technologies started out designed to provide access to people with disabilities, including the audiobook, speech recognition, captioning, and speech output (screen readers). Speech recognition enables hands-free computing, which is useful in situations like driving. Captioning of videos renders them available to text-based search algorithms but also makes video consumable when ambient sound levels are high, as in airports and gyms. Audiobooks, which began as a way for blind people to access reading material, are now everyday companions for travelers and commuters everywhere.9

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In a 2012 Communications column, former ACM president Vinton G. Cerf highlighted the importance and difficulty of designing and developing accessible computing systems, making a public call for ideas and reports on success stories and experiences.5


 

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