Recently I attended an event at a local college where Bill Gates was the featured speaker. It was essentially an informal event where Bill did not deliver a speech as much as he made himself available to answer questions asked by a number of preselected students.
One fascinating aspect of this event was how he was able to weave a common theme into his answers for us to consider. His theme was that it will take innovation to resolve today's global issues. He explained some of the causes that he is focused on. First, the eradication of polio and how the world is just three countries away from this goal. Second includes how one single gene in a rice seed can double the production in countries that experience significant rainfall during the growing season that otherwise would destroy crops.
Both of these achievements are not being funded by governments, but through philanthropy and the private sector. The elements of success are establishing a set of priorities, gathering the resources, and focusing the effort. These individuals were not told what to do, they saw what needed to be done and channeled their previous business successes into a cause.
A similar situation relates to banking in the use of Assistive Technologies.
Over the last decade, technology innovators have introduced numerous products to assist and accommodate individuals that have disabilities. However, unless we as an industry are responding to changes in the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), our effort is limited.
When was the last time you designed a DDA Statement that has a large print option or a website that has large icon, fonts, or reads the information to the customer when they run the cursor over the information? The solutions are not expensive or difficult to implement, they just have to be considered during the design process.
Bill Gates is right. We can do more. The innovations really don't take much to implement except thought, consideration, and effort -- at the start of the project, not at the end of it.
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