Accessibility efforts: Initiatives and accolades

Improving accessibility across the board

Accessibility initiatives, products, and services

Building products and services around the customer perspective

With technological advances driving multifunctional product development and improvements in user interfaces, Sony aims to make the products and services it provides as accessible and user-friendly as possible. The company also embraces the concept of "user-centered design" (UCD) by promoting activities that bring the user perspective-the customer standpoint-into every phase of the development process, from research and planning to design and validation.

User research

Sony sites in Japan, North America, Europe, India, China, and other locations around the world work together to establish systems and environments for usability testing. Sony makes the user perspective an integral part of product development from the initial stages onward and continues to conduct user research through home visits and interviews across the globe.

Usability testing

For the design and validation processes, where developers assess the "user-friendliness" of a given product in terms of visual accessibility, understandability, and responsiveness, Sony takes a proactive approach to usability testing in actual customer environments to locate problems, make corrections, and improve overall user-friendliness before the product hits the market.
The scope of usability testing goes beyond the pre-launch phase; after the product goes on sale, Sony also conducts long-term usage research and interviews actual users on the product's user-friendliness to identify defects and possible areas for improvement.

A scene from Usability testing

Internal monitoring

Sony's internal "User Experience (UX) Research Program" allows interested employees to participate in usability testing and online surveys. Through this framework, Sony propels the in-house usability testing process and accelerates improvements in user-friendliness.

Internal standards

The Sony Group's lead product and service designers collaborate to lay out clear in-house standards for optimal user-friendliness. UI design standards and knowledge resources are also available on Sony's internal portal site, which provides all Sony Group employees access to a unified set of standards documentation.

Sony Exhibits at one of the World's Largest International Conferences on Accessibility: CSUN Assistive Technology Conference

Sony exhibited for the first time ever at the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, one of the world's largest conferences on accessibility, held in San Diego from March 19 through March 23, 2018. The exhibits introduced the accessibility functions of Sony products, including BRAVIA®, PlayStation®4, and the Uncharted 4: A Thief's End software title for PlayStation®4. In cooperation with *professional* organizations, it helped people with visual impairments handle products for themselves by providing product descriptions in braille on the display stands.

Display stands equipped with plaques with product information in braille

In-house Promotion Activities

Accessibility team leads a variety of activities in regions such as Japan and US.
Global Accessibility Awareness Day (GAAD) is commemorated on the third Thursday of May to raise global awareness of accessibility. Each year on this day, the US offices of Sony Interactive Entertainment and the US offices of Sony North America hold major events concerning accessibility.

In 2018, Sony Interactive Entertainment brought in gamers with hearing loss and an accessibility advocate to speak about how they use Sony products. Sony North America also displayed accessibility-friendly products and prototypes, which encouraged employee interest and facilitated active exchanges of opinions.
On February 2018 in Japan, meanwhile, people with disabilities were invited to give lectures on how to deal with lifestyles and products from the perspective of interested parties, and joined in workshops designed to deepen understanding.

SNA event displays

Technology overcomes disabilities - our challenge to develop prosthetic limbs -

Researchers at Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) explore a variety of unique themes. Among those, Dr. Ken Endo focuses on three main areas of research related to prosthetic limbs: 1) robotic legs, where motors are used to reproduce ankle and knee functions, 2) affordable, locally manufactured prosthetic limbs for developing countries, and 3) fitness prosthetics, with goals to be completed by 2020 for use in Tokyo.

Dr. Endo dreams of seeing an athlete with a prosthetic limb running just as fast, or faster, than an athlete without a disability at the sprint race. If that happens, it would completely revolutionize the future of disabled sports. Out of this fitness prosthetic research comes the possibility of creating technology that can boost athletes' potential beyond their natural capacities, whether or not they have a disability. If that comes to fruition, the line between "abled" and "disabled" would all but disappear. It is with these scenarios in mind that Dr. Endo carries out his research each day.

Sony Co-sponsors the Shibuya City Games—Challenge the World Record at Shibuya Art Festival 2017

The Shibuya City Games—Challenge the World Record, organized by the Shibuya Art Festival (*) Executive Committee, was held on November 5 (Sun.) on Fire Street in Shibuya, Tokyo. An unprecedented street race in Japan was unfolded in which top athletes using blade prosthetics competed to see if they could mark a new record as the fastest prosthetic sprinter.

  • * Shibuya Art Festival:Held since 2009 with the aim of enriching people's minds and contributing to building an even better society using the concept of art and providing events in which anyone can participate, regardless of their age, nationality or gender.Shibuya Art Festival 2017 (in Japanese only)

Working to enhance accessibility at general meetings of shareholders

In response to requests from shareholders at the General Meeting of Shareholders, Sony released a voice reader-compatible "Notice of the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders" on the Shareholders' Meeting section of its Investor Relations website (*) for the first time in 2016 so that people with visual impairments could read the information. To facilitate access via voice-reading software, the page for the latest Notice of the Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders featured links to the table of contents and various sections of the Notice at the top of the page to make it easier for users to find the information they need.

On the day of the General Meeting, Sony also expanded on its existing accessibility approach — wheelchair seating areas, which provide wheelchair-bound shareholders with easier access, along with simultaneous English translation services — by offering additional information support for shareholders with visual or hearing impairments. The information support services featured two main components: audio commentary via wireless headphones to give vision-impaired individuals details on screen — projected slide presentations — much like supplementation audio channels for television broadcasts-and written summary transcripts to help people with hearing loss understand the presentations and proceedings. The written transcripts appeared on a special monitor under the stage, providing a running, real — time summary of what the speakers on stage were saying.

Shareholders who made use of the information support services complimented the new offerings, saying that they made the General Meeting easier to follow and enjoy.

The written transcripts appeared on a special monitor under the stage
The left side is the booth where summary transcripts writers are works
(at the meeting)

Five different ways to contact us for inquiries (in Japanese only)

You are free to choose the method for contacting us—by LINE (instant messaging), chat, email, support forum / community website, or telephone—according to what is most convenient for you. Text-based inquiries like LINE and chat are particularly useful since they can be made from anywhere and you will not need to take any notes.
We also offer a list of questions frequently asked by our customers and answers (FAQs) that you can check before making your inquiry.

FeliCa Awards

Sony Receives FY2018 National Invention Awards, Asahi Shimbun Award

As part of the FY2018 National Invention Awards sponsored by the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation (JIII), Sony Corporation has been awarded the Asahi Shimbun Award for inventing a wireless device connection method that is operated by touch.

The award commends this invention for its contribution to the spread and development of accessible products through the achievement of universal designs that reduce the burden on users by means of a wireless device connection method that uses touch operation.

The invention combines NFC (Near Field Communication) and other short-range wireless communications methods with WiFi and other high-bandwidth wireless communications methods. Simply touching together the devices that the user wants to connect initiates NFC communications, allowing WiFi and other methods to take over the actual connections. This simple operation thus launches wireless communications between devices without requiring the user to be aware of setting up complicated wireless connections.

The invention also adopts the NFC Forum's Connection handover protocol as its international standard, and is installed in many products as an intuitive inter-device connection technology. In this way, it contributes to the spread and development of products that embody universal designs that are easy and intuitive for anyone to use.

  • *The National Invention Awards were inaugurated in 1919 to contribute to enhancing Japan's science and technology, and industrial development.
    The Awards come with a gift from the Imperial Family, and commend inventions and creations that have already made considerable contributions, or whose excellence encourages great expectations for future achievements.
    National Invention Awards (in Japanese only)
  • Recipients of Asahi Shimbun award
    • Junichi Rekimoto, Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.
    • Haruo Oba, ex-Sony corporation
    • Yuji Ayatsuka, Nobuyuki Matsushita, Eduardo Agusto Sciammarella, ex-Sony Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.
  • Recipients of Invention implementation achievements award
    Kenichiro Yoshida President and CEO, Sony corporation
  • *When an obligee of a patent is a corporation, a representative of a corporation wins this award.

Entertainment Access Glasses

Sony wins the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) 2016 Innovation Award

Sony Corporation's Entertainment Access Glasses (STW-C140GI) received an Innovation Award (*2) from the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) (*1).

The HLAA awards committee selected the Entertainment Access Glasses, which project holographic captions onto glasses, for giving hearing-impaired individuals more opportunities to enjoy movies on the big screen.
"Sony has demonstrated a significant achievement, resulting in people with hearing loss being able to enjoy a movie with friends and family, children and grandchildren at any time, for any showing," an HLAA representative explained during the awards ceremony at HLAA Convention 2016, a nationwide gathering of organization members. "The experience of being an equal part of the community cannot be overstated."

Entertainment Access Glasses projects easy-to-see green text onto glass lenses as a superimposed overlay and lets users adjust the text height of the captions they see, creating a natural watching experience that eliminates the need to look away from the screen and keeps the text from interfering with the onscreen visual content. Light and comfortable, the Glasses help people with hearing loss understand character dialogue at the same pace as hearing people do. They let wearers adjust the size, perceived distance, and language of the captions. They also feature receiver box that allows wearers to plug in their headphones and access multiplex audio accompaniment for people with visual impairments.

Entertainment Access Glasses
  • (*1)The Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), the United States' leading organization representing people with hearing loss, has a total membership of approximately 480,000 individuals and serves to provide the hearing-impaired with information, support, and advocacy.
  • (*2) The HLAA Innovation Award honors companies and individuals who have designed and promoted products, services, and/or standards for technology that improve the lives and experiences with hearing loss. Innovative technology allows people with hearing loss to find new and exciting ways to fully participate in the world around them. Innovation Awards go to a wide variety of technologies, including portable captioning devices, hearing aid-compatible mobile phones, wide-area listening systems, and all other forms of new innovation with the power to change the ways in which people with hearing loss live.

Manual Awards

Japan Manual Awards: Award Reports

The Japan Technical Communicators Association's "Japan Manual Awards" are the country's only official awards for product manuals. Established in 1991, the Japan Technical Communicators Association has presented Japan Manual Awards on a yearly basis since 1997 in hopes of providing users with manuals that incorporate new production technologies and quality improvements to deliver easy-to-understand information on how to use products safely.

Awards Received in FY2017
Manuals for PlayStation® VR and a Sony digital voice recorder win awards

Sony Interactive Entertainment's PlayStation® VR's Quick Start Guide / Instructions on Wearing the Headset / Instruction Manual won the best manual and best plan awards in the General - Overall Category of the Japan Technical Communicators Association's Japan Manual Awards 2017. Meanwhile, the Operating Instructions for the ICD-UX560F/565F Digital Voice Recorder with Built-in USB won the superior manual award in the General - Individual Category. The PlayStation® VR manual was also nominated as Manual of the Year, a prize awarded to the best manual of the year.

The PlayStation® VR manual helps users learn new ways of enjoying and experiencing the product based on the product's characteristics. Because there are many cables that must be connected, setup is complex. There was concern as to whether the hookup method could be explained correctly through the manual. Many usability tests were carried out, and various ideas were brought together to create a manual that pursued new ways to make instructions easy to follow, resulting in a manual that enables many users to connect the cables correctly.

The manual for the ICD-UX560F/565F Digital Voice Recorder with Built-in USB was highly recognized for how clearly information was laid out in a small manual, which is easy to carry around. With the diverse ways in which these IC recorders are now used, the color used in the instruction headings makes it easy for users to quickly find the page they need to check to learn how to operate the recorder. The flow of instructions is uniform and starts with an explanation of the button(s) to use, after which step-by-step instructions are given. Furthermore, the content of frequent customer inquiries and information on other trends were used to create a spread titled "Useful Information" on frequently used functions.

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