Robin Christopherson
Robin Christopherson

Head of digital inclusion, AbilityNet

Robin is a founding member of UK tech charity AbilityNet. Now globally acclaimed as leading experts in their field, AbilityNet specialise in accessibility and inclusive design, helping clients design attractive websites and apps that are easy to use by all.

Central to his mission is raising awareness of the power of tech. Robin has won several prestigious accolades for his work, including an MBE this year and the Special Award at the Tech4Good Awards 2016 in recognition of his services as a digital inclusion evangelist (previous winners include Professor Stephen Hawking). 
Embracing inclusive marketing in an age of extreme computing

Robin Christopherson explains why we should be thinking about accessibility and the opportunity we have.

The first speaking slot post-lunch at Dots can sometimes be a tough one, engaging a crowd full of food and ideas. But Robin Christophersen, head of digital inclusion at AbilityNet had no problem in drawing rapturous applause from the audience during and after his talk.

Central to Robin’s mission at AbilityNet is raising awareness of the power of tech and, during his talk, he explained how thinking inclusively when working with technology will invariably improve the experience for all users.

Why should we think about accessibility?
Robin explained that one in five people have some form of disability, and all of us are likely to have an impairment at some point in life. Just by carrying a phone and a coffee we are motor impaired. And by having big, sausage fingers we will struggle to use a small screen touch device. If we are short of time, we need “extreme UX”. Accessible design improves the experience for everyone.

How is technology helping?
Devices have sensors that people are missing and these help level to the playing field. Ambient computing is giving people a lot more options. “How would Professor Hawking use an Amazon Echo?”

What opportunities do we have?
Some new technologies, like augmented reality, aren’t accessible for blind people. Robin asked: “If we were to have an opportunity to create a campaign, how would we get our message across in an accessible way?”

Could this be life or death?
Robin showed an example of Captcha and how it is almost impossible for someone visually impaired to submit what could be a potentially important form.

He went on to explain that Felix Baumgartner, the man who skydived from a balloon in space, could not see the screen in his helmet and this potential life or death experience could have been avoided with sensors providing audio information.

For many people – Robin included – technology is changing their lives. But to do that, accessibility has to be for everyone.