In the majority of workplaces today, wireless technologies—ranging from tablets and laptops to smartphones and the multitude of productivity apps that can be accessed on the go—have become widespread. As such, the accessibility and usability of current and emerging wireless technologies is essential to inclusive workplaces. While advancements in mobile accessibility continue, technology is evolving rapidly. These exciting innovations include adding voice and gesture-based interfaces to increase the ways people can interact with menus and dashboards on their devices, and wireless technologies that are increasingly smaller, smarter, and more integrated into public and private environments. But depending on their design, these technological advancements may be facilitators or barriers to inclusion.

To inform inclusive development, the Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center for Wireless Inclusive Technologies (Wireless RERC) is currently collecting data on user experiences and expectations concerning wireless technologies by people with disabilities through the Survey of User Needs (SUN). First launched in 2001, this latest version represents the 6th edition of this cornerstone survey, which is updated periodically in response to changes in technology. In addition to questions about cell phone and tablet use, this version of the SUN collects information about wearables, “smart” home (and office) technologies, and other next-generation wirelessly connected devices.

User responses will help designers and engineers make new, and refine existing, wireless devices and services for people with disabilities. Data from the SUN also provides important information to the wireless industry, government regulators, and other researchers to help them make wireless technology more accessible and more useful to people with all types of disabilities. If you have a disability, please consider taking this survey. If you know someone who has a disability, please forward the survey to them.

There is strength in numbers. While the “disability divide” and “socialization gap” is shrinking, questions remain about the effects of wireless communications technology on social inclusion, community participation, and sense of well-being among individuals with disabilities. Your participation in this survey will inform assessments on wireless technology trends across life domains and how people with disabilities use wirelessly connected technologies to support participation in both work and life.

Additional Information:

The Wireless RERC is funded by a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant number 90RE5025-01-00). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The contents of this blog post do not necessarily represent the policy of NIDILRR, ACL, HHS, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

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About the Author

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Salimah LaForce

Salimah LaForce is a Research Analyst for the Wireless RERC, which works to connect, engage, and accelerate access to a dynamic inclusive wireless ecosystem through an agenda of research, development, training, and outreach activities.