A tour of Yahoo’s accessibility lab in Boston

According to the World Health Organization, a billion people worldwide have some form of disability. The giant Internet service Yahoo wants to deliver information and entertainment to every one of them, not just because it’s good business, but also because it’s the right thing to do. – Hiawatha Bray, Boston Globe

A week ago today, with my dad, State Sen. Mike Barrett, I had the privilege of visiting Yahoo‘s Boston location in Downtown Crossing. Larry Goldberg — a longtime friend and advocate for persons with disabilities — is Yahoo‘s director of accessible media. He and his colleagues gave us a tour of Yahoo‘s accessibility lab, wherein they create and test captions on all of Yahoo‘s video content, across multiple devices (a laptop, a tablet, a smartphone, etc.). We were also treated to a demo on descriptive audio tools — via Yahoo‘s fantasy sports game — for blind people.

I am blown away by what Yahoo‘s doing, and excited about how tech can open up the world for persons with hearing impairments, vision challenges, and more. It’s important work! And, as I’ve started learning HTML, CSS and more, I’ve become interested in how the creators of the apps and tools we all use could directly help advance accessibility efforts. In other words, I hope universal design — rather than a focus on the “average user” — can become the norm.

Check out BetaBoston‘s article about the event here.

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