Importance of Accessibility Tech and the Tech Trends Helping Millions of People  by@tvc

Importance of Accessibility Tech and the Tech Trends Helping Millions of People

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Tech Journalism, Product Reviews, Startups, Investing, FinTech

We had the pleasure to interview Idan Meir, Co-Founder & CEO of RightHear, who is turning public spaces into accessible environments for the blind and visually impaired.

Which of the following topics are you most excited by?

I'm most excited about the potential for creating accessible public spaces. What I mean by that is that there's so much opportunity to leverage technology to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges.


There are at least 2.2 billion people in the world - yes billion - who have a visual impairment. Think about what that's like to try and negotiate sidewalks, offices, hotels, airports, restaurants, public transport, and so on. You know, only 10% of the blind and visually impaired community can read braille. And that's assuming they know where to find the sign in the first place.

So, there has to be another way, right? That's what we're doing at RightHear. We're turning public spaces into accessible environments through Talking Signage. Any venue can install our discreet beacons, which can be customized to provide audio descriptions of their unique space. For example, if you're a restaurant, you might want to specify where the line starts for the order counter or provide the menu in an audio format. The descriptions are automatically detected by a free smartphone app, so the user doesn't even have to take the phone out of their pocket or bag to benefit.

This means any space can be made accessible for even less than a fraction of the cost of remodeling or renovating a venue to make mobility and orientation accommodations.

Why does it excite you?

Right now, when you think of accessibility, you probably picture a wheelchair user because that's the international icon for accessibility. But it's only part of the story. This symbol is not inclusive of blind and low-vision people's needs, nor does it recognize unseen disabilities such as anxiety, Dyslexia, or even orientation challenges. At RightHear, our mission is to make the world accessible for everyone, and that requires us to reassess how we interpret the term "accessibility" so that it's far more inclusive.


It's also great to see how businesses are embracing accessibility, and not just for compliance reasons. Corporations really do care, and they're using solutions like RightHear to show it.

What are the trends in this area or products in this area that you are the fondest of? Why?

Right now, I'm really enjoying Jonathan Kaufman (from Forbes) 's series about VC investment in the Disability Economy. There's an unfortunate misconception that the disability ecosystem is a niche market. But the truth is that accessibility is for everyone, and everyone is a HUGE market. So it's very interesting to see how this is starting to gain momentum. We've been advocating for this for a long time, so it's great to see it being recognized as a solid investment. I think it's more than just a trend, though. I think this merging of accessibility and inclusivity is definitely here to stay.

It's also interesting to follow the advancements in assistive and connected devices such as Be My Eyes, Envision, and SeeingAI. They're great partners of ours, and it's wonderful to see how they're also helping the blind and visually impaired lead more independent lives.

The final trend that excites me is accessible autonomous vehicles. We won the VW Konnect Startup Challenge 2021 with our vision for inclusive self-driving cars. We're honored to partner with Volkswagen Group to develop this proof of concept further. I can't say much more than that at this stage, but definitely stay tuned for updates!

What are the positive impacts they can have on society?

Well, investing in the Disability Market benefits everyone. Many common products and solutions started out as assistive technology before they went mainstream. One example is curb ramps along sidewalks. These were originally designed to benefit wheelchair users, but they benefit delivery people, those with strollers or carts, plus bike, scooter, or skateboard riders, to name just a few. It's the same with text-to-speech technology. It started as an adaptive solution, but now we see it in use with smart home devices, closed captioning, and many other common scenarios.

As for accessible autonomous vehicles, these will allow anyone with mobility or orientation challenges to more confidently and independently explore the world. Public transportation is not always accessible, so having vehicles that you can summon yourself at the touch of a button and have a customized journey just for you. Well, that's going to be transformative!

What are the negative impacts they can have on society?

I don't foresee any downside to creating a more accessible, inclusive, and equitable society. It benefits everyone, including the businesses investing in the solutions.

What are your predictions on how these technologies will evolve?

I predict that more and more businesses will embrace assistive technologies to help marginalized and vulnerable people. Society is becoming more aware of what it means to be inclusive, and this acceptance of diversity will only increase.

From an evolutionary perspective, I think we're heading towards bionic solutions, where technology and human features become more entwined than ever before, whether that's to enhance a human function such as eyesight or to facilitate immersive experiences such as an accessible metaverse.

What are your predictions on the ethics of future societies in relation to these technologies?

Ethically, I think it's more about making sure that the laws, regulations, and policies can match pace with technological advancements. That's what will protect customers and businesses from risks such as cybersecurity, data privacy, or inclusion-bias situations.


We had the pleasure to interview Idan Meir, Co-Founder & CEO of RightHear, who is turning public spaces into accessible environments for the blind and visually impaired.

Which of the following topics are you most excited by?

I'm most excited about the potential for creating accessible public spaces. What I mean by that is that there's so much opportunity to leverage technology to solve some of the world's most pressing challenges.


There are at least 2.2 billion people in the world - yes billion - who have a visual impairment. Think about what that's like to try and negotiate sidewalks, offices, hotels, airports, restaurants, public transport, and so on. You know, only 10% of the blind and visually impaired community can read braille. And that's assuming they know where to find the sign in the first place.

So, there has to be another way, right? That's what we're doing at RightHear. We're turning public spaces into accessible environments through Talking Signage. Any venue can install our discreet beacons, which can be customized to provide audio descriptions of their unique space. For example, if you're a restaurant, you might want to specify where the line starts for the order counter or provide the menu in an audio format. The descriptions are automatically detected by a free smartphone app, so the user doesn't even have to take the phone out of their pocket or bag to benefit.

This means any space can be made accessible for even less than a fraction of the cost of remodeling or renovating a venue to make mobility and orientation accommodations.

Why does it excite you?

Right now, when you think of accessibility, you probably picture a wheelchair user because that's the international icon for accessibility. But it's only part of the story. This symbol is not inclusive of blind and low-vision people's needs, nor does it recognize unseen disabilities such as anxiety, Dyslexia, or even orientation challenges. At RightHear, our mission is to make the world accessible for everyone, and that requires us to reassess how we interpret the term "accessibility" so that it's far more inclusive.


It's also great to see how businesses are embracing accessibility, and not just for compliance reasons. Corporations really do care, and they're using solutions like RightHear to show it.

What are the trends in this area or products in this area that you are the fondest of? Why?

Right now, I'm really enjoying Jonathan Kaufman (from Forbes) 's series about VC investment in the Disability Economy. There's an unfortunate misconception that the disability ecosystem is a niche market. But the truth is that accessibility is for everyone, and everyone is a HUGE market. So it's very interesting to see how this is starting to gain momentum. We've been advocating for this for a long time, so it's great to see it being recognized as a solid investment. I think it's more than just a trend, though. I think this merging of accessibility and inclusivity is definitely here to stay.

It's also interesting to follow the advancements in assistive and connected devices such as Be My Eyes, Envision, and SeeingAI. They're great partners of ours, and it's wonderful to see how they're also helping the blind and visually impaired lead more independent lives.

The final trend that excites me is accessible autonomous vehicles. We won the VW Konnect Startup Challenge 2021 with our vision for inclusive self-driving cars. We're honored to partner with Volkswagen Group to develop this proof of concept further. I can't say much more than that at this stage, but definitely stay tuned for updates!

What are the positive impacts they can have on society?

Well, investing in the Disability Market benefits everyone. Many common products and solutions started out as assistive technology before they went mainstream. One example is curb ramps along sidewalks. These were originally designed to benefit wheelchair users, but they benefit delivery people, those with strollers or carts, plus bike, scooter, or skateboard riders, to name just a few. It's the same with text-to-speech technology. It started as an adaptive solution, but now we see it in use with smart home devices, closed captioning, and many other common scenarios.

As for accessible autonomous vehicles, these will allow anyone with mobility or orientation challenges to more confidently and independently explore the world. Public transportation is not always accessible, so having vehicles that you can summon yourself at the touch of a button and have a customized journey just for you. Well, that's going to be transformative!

What are the negative impacts they can have on society?

I don't foresee any downside to creating a more accessible, inclusive, and equitable society. It benefits everyone, including the businesses investing in the solutions.

What are your predictions on how these technologies will evolve?

I predict that more and more businesses will embrace assistive technologies to help marginalized and vulnerable people. Society is becoming more aware of what it means to be inclusive, and this acceptance of diversity will only increase.

From an evolutionary perspective, I think we're heading towards bionic solutions, where technology and human features become more entwined than ever before, whether that's to enhance a human function such as eyesight or to facilitate immersive experiences such as an accessible metaverse.

What are your predictions on the ethics of future societies in relation to these technologies?

Ethically, I think it's more about making sure that the laws, regulations, and policies can match pace with technological advancements. That's what will protect customers and businesses from risks such as cybersecurity, data privacy, or inclusion-bias situations.

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