Consumers and cloud accessibility

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Wednesday, 27 August 2014 10:27am

Consumers stand to benefit from the wider adoption of cloud services in their private and work lives, but the lack of accessibility of these services for people with disabilities may hamper the realisation of the cloud’s benefits.

That’s the finding of new research, The accessibility of the cloud: Current and future trends white paper, produced by Media Access Australia and sponsored by the Australian web Industry Association, into the accessibility of cloud services for people with disabilities.

According to the author of the white paper, Media Access Australia’s Dr Scott Hollier, there are a number of access issues related to cloud services—also referred to as cloud computing—particularly through mobile devices being reliant on cloud services.

“Given that the cloud is essential to the functionality of mobile devices, it is essential that the difficulties people with disabilities have gaining access to internet-related technologies do not increase with cloud reliance,” he said.

“Consumers need to be careful about which ecosystem they choose, as while many cloud storage options are across all platforms, the choice and accessibility of apps and availability of web solutions varies from platform to platform.”

Dr Hollier said part of the solution to accessibility issues was for cloud providers to work with consumer advocates so that accessibility was better incorporated into cloud-based products.

“General information targeted at a consumer level, showing the various accessibility features of different cloud solutions, will also help expand this market and reduce the current consumer focus on the built-in accessibility features of hardware,” he said.

In the workplace, both employers and cloud service providers needed to work together to improve access to the many cloud services which employers and employees now relied on.

“The flexibility that cloud computing offers in the workplace means that people with disabilities can work in a range of environments and accessibility costs can be reduced,” Dr Hollier said. “However, consumers need to ensure that accessibility needs and considerations are part of discussions taking place in workplaces around the adoption of cloud-based work solutions.”

For a more-depth discussion of the access challenges around cloud services, The accessibility of the cloud: Current and future trends white paper is available for download on our website.

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