Accessibility means everyone, regardless of any disability or condition they may have, can receive the same benefits from a product or service. That’s why Amazon employees around the world are building for everyone—from the teams and individuals making the world more accessible through technology, to the employees who support, recognize, and ensure that their fellow employees with disabilities are represented. They’re just some of the many people who are identifying barriers that exist in environments across Amazon and beyond, and working to remove them.
Throughout May, Amazon hosts and celebrates Global Accessibility Awareness Month, an annual internal accessibility event series focused on digital access and inclusion. The events highlight how creating accessible experiences takes more than good intentions—it takes knowledge and skills, which is why Amazon employees are diving deep this month to further build the base of accessibility knowledge and skills companywide.
We are dedicated year-round to ensuring the products and services we create work well for everyone, and we’re taking this day and month to highlight some of the ways our teams have recently brought the power of accessibility to life. Below are some examples:
Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids
Fire TV Cube (2nd generation) now supports Audio Streaming for Hearing Aids (ASHA), making Fire TV the first-ever streaming media player to support ASHA and allowing customers to directly connect compatible Starkey Bluetooth hearing aids. Through research, our teams learned that improving TV sound quality was one of the most requested features among hearing aid users, which is why we built this capability.
Alexa now gives customers more time to finish speaking before giving a response through Adaptive Listening. Alexa is also learning to better understand different speech patterns like stuttering, making it easier for customers to interact with Alexa and get the most out of their experience.
Notify When Nearby
When enabled, Notify When Nearby allows Alexa to detect if a customer is near an eligible Echo device and alert them to any unread notifications by replaying a notification sound. This can be especially useful for customers who may not be able to see visual alerts, like the Yellow Ring light or banners on Echo devices.
Alexa Person and Package Announcements
The Alexa Person and Package Announcements feature is now available for compatible Ring cameras and video doorbells, and will be coming soon to select Abode and Google devices. The feature enables customers to receive an alert from their Alexa mobile app, hear an announcement from their Echo device, and automatically view live video feeds on their Echo Show, Fire TV, or Fire Tablet when their camera detects a person or package. When enabled with an Alexa Routine, this feature gives customers the ability to select their preferences from multiple options and can be helpful to people who may prefer to either hear or see alerts.
Alexa Together is designed to help aging customers feel more comfortable and confident living independently, and give their families peace of mind. We recently launched a new Circle of Support feature, which helps the whole family pitch in, and introduced a new Remote Assist Routines functionality.
Alexa Deal Alerts & Zero Click Shopping
Amazon Prime customers can use the Alexa Deal Alerts & Zero Click Shopping feature to get notified up to 24 hours in advance if there’s an upcoming deal or an eligible item in their Amazon.com wish list, shopping cart, or saved for later. The notifications can be helpful for people with certain types of cognitive or mobility disabilities.
To make our fully electric and autonomous delivery device more accessible, Amazon Scout partnered with the World Institute on Disability to conduct sidewalk testing with people with disabilities. Results from this test have led to improvements in Scout’s behavior when it encounters people in wheelchairs on sidewalks.
Supporting startups focused on accessibility
Amazon’s Alexa Fund works with startups that are creating accessibility-led technologies of the future. For example, Labrador Systems introduced its personal robot, Retriever, earlier this year to empower individuals to live more independently by providing practical, physical assistance with everyday activities. People can also ask the robot for support through Alexa.
Additionally, the Alexa Fund has invested in Cognixion, which is building assisted reality technologies to support people with communication disabilities. Cognixion is integrating Alexa directly into the interface of its Cognixion ONE headset to make the device even more accessible for people with communication and physical disabilities, and to help them live more independently.
Learning from customers
We continue to hear stories about how our customers use our technology to help them live more independently. One customer, Tyler, for example, found numerous Alexa features helpful after he experienced a spinal injury. We also continue to learn from customers, including Ginny, who turned to Alexa after her son was diagnosed with autism.
We are committed to empowering our employees and partners to build offerings that are delightful and useful to all customers, and we will continue to build on everyone’s behalf.
Learn more about Amazon Accessibility.