A Beacon of Hope: Reflections on World Assistive Technology Day

Web Accessibility News & Trends

Sheldon Lewis is a Nonprofit Partnerships Manager at accessiBe and is blind. For World Assistive Technology Day he shares some insights on how digital accessibility has impacted his life.

accessiBe Team

As today is Assistive Technology Day and Global Accessibility Awareness Day was less than a month ago, I have found myself reflecting on the profound impact that digital accessibility has had on my life. It's not just about convenience; it's about empowerment, independence, and the ability to navigate the world on my own terms.

Growing up, I faced the gradual loss of my eyesight, a daunting challenge that threatened to strip away my ability to interact with the world around me. Simple tasks like dialing a phone number or typing a text message became increasingly difficult, pushing me to the brink of despair. In a world without the technology we often take for granted today, the prospect of losing my independence was a terrifying reality.

Then, like a beacon of hope in the darkness, Apple released its first cell phone with Siri—a breakthrough that would change my life forever. With VoiceOver, the screen-reading feature built into the iPhone, I regained the ability to navigate my device effortlessly. Suddenly, I could dial numbers, send texts, and even make restaurant reservations with just the power of my voice. It was a game-changer, a lifeline that arrived just in the nick of time.

But the challenges didn't end there. As technology evolved, so did the obstacles I faced. Despite the existence of screen readers for computers, many websites remained inaccessible, leaving vital information out of reach for individuals like myself. Imagine trying to pay a bill online, only to find that crucial details are not being read aloud by your screen reader. It's not just frustrating; it's a barrier to independence, a reminder of the hurdles that still exist in our digitally-driven world.

That's why events like Global Accessibility Awareness Day and Assistive Technology Day are so important. They remind us of the urgent need to make technology accessible to all, regardless of ability. By designing websites and digital platforms with accessibility in mind, we aren't just making life easier for a few; we're opening doors of opportunity for countless individuals who rely on technology to navigate daily life.

So, to every developer, designer, tech enthusiast, and business person out there, I urge you to join me in this mission. Let's ensure that digital accessibility isn't just an afterthought but a fundamental principle guiding every aspect of our work. Together, we can create a world where everyone has the tools they need to thrive, regardless of the challenges they may face.

Thank you for understanding my journey and the journeys of countless others who rely on the transformative power of accessibility technology. Together, we can build a more inclusive world—one website, one app, and one innovation at a time.

Sheldon Lewis is a Nonprofit Partnerships Manager at accessiBe and is blind. 

He was diagnosed at a young age with Choroideremia, a genetically inherited degenerative eye disease that would ultimately lead to blindness in adulthood. After graduating from The Philadelphia College of Textiles and Science as Vice President of the university fraternity, he returned to his hometown of Montreal to manage the family textile business which included traveling the world despite his deteriorating eyesight. Sheldon is a member of several committees such as The Choroideremia Research Foundation, Westmount Committee on Accessibility, and The Philanthropy committee for Habilitas.

Through his work, Sheldon has played an integral role in establishing meaningful and impactful partnerships between accessiBe and disability-focused nonprofits.

You can learn more about these nonprofits and the Nonprofit Partnership Program here.