Accessibility and Usability

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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.

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.

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.
* More information on the 99th Ordinary General Meeting of Shareholders (Japanese)

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 (rehearsal)

  • The left side is the booth where summary transcripts writers are works (at the meeting)

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

  • 『STC-C140GI』

  • (*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.

2016 Award Report
Sony's Glass Sound Speaker and Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector manuals win Japan Manual Awards

Two Sony manuals received honors at the Japan Technical Communicators Association's "Japan Manual Awards 2016," with the Glass Sound Speaker LSPX-S1 taking home a pair of awards, and "Outstanding Manual in the Paper Manual Category" prize and the "Executive Committee Special Award", and the Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector LSPX-P1 ranking as an "Outstanding Manual in the General Category." The Glass Sound Speaker LSPX-S1 manual was also nominated for "Manual of the Year."
In addition to praising the Glass Sound Speaker LSPX-S1 manual's design, which accentuated the joys of buying and owning the product, the awards committee also lauded the document for its ample coverage of vital information, clean layout, and simple content-features that made the manual easy for beginners to understand.
The manual for the Portable Ultra Short Throw Projector LSPX-P1 drew high marks for condensing the content to the essential information and making effective use of photographs and illustrations, all of which helped users get right to using the product without having to read too many details . The awards committee also commended the designers for keeping the paper manual to a minimal length and directing users to the online "Help Guide" for more information.

2015 Award Report
Sony's Smart Tennis Sensor and Smart B-Trainer manuals win Japan Manual Awards

At the Japan Technical Communicators Association's "Japan Manual Awards 2015," Sony received honors for two product manuals: an "Outstanding Manual in the General Category" and the "Planning Award" for the Smart Tennis Sensor SSE-TN1 manual and another "Outstanding Manual in the General Category" for the Smart B-Trainer SSE-BTR1 manual.

The awards for the Smart Tennis Sensor SSE-TN1 reflected the manual's ability to deliver the information customers need to start using the product in a seamless fashion, with every detail coming in at just the right time. The method for providing information on the Smart Tennis Sensor product was a well-orchestrated, multi-stage, multi-mode (paper and smartphone) arrangement that began with offering potential buyers pertinent details at stores and continued on to delivering exactly the right information when the user opened the package, got the product ready, and then started using the product.
The Smart B-Trainer SSE-BTR1 manual, meanwhile, garnered accolades for its smooth approach to providing information. One key element was the "Start Guide," a handy, straightforward manual that encouraged users to access the Help Guide and download the app.
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