Updated on August 29, 2019
"Accessibility and Usability" is an essential aspect of quality at Sony. Sony aims to create products and services that people can use with ease—independent of age and disabilities.
Sony’s accessibility and usability initiatives are overseen by the Corporate Executive Officer in charge of Product Quality. The main implementers are the Quality and Environmental Department and HR Department at Sony headquarters, Sony Global Solutions Inc., and the Quality & Environmental Promotion Division at Sony Global Manufacturing & Operations Corporation, with further cooperation from other related departments and Sony Group organizations. Products and services are getting more multifunctional and their user interfaces tend to be more complex with advanced technology. Sony employs intradepartmental cooperation on development to deliver products and services that people can use with ease and comfort. In order to deliver a superior user experience, Sony incorporates human-centered design concepts and takes a user-centered approach to the planning, design, and testing of its products and services.
Sony conducts worldwide user research including home visits and user interviews in order to develop products and services that meet users’ essential needs. In order to improve usability factors such as visibility, understandability, and responsiveness, Sony repeats cycles of detecting and correcting problems, employing usability testing from the prototype stage. In addition to pre-release testing, Sony also conducts long-term use surveys after products go on sale to gain an understanding of customer satisfaction and any usability problems that arise when products are used on a day-to-day basis.
In all these ways and more, Sony takes a multifaceted approach to human-centered design to deliver an inspiring user experience.
Representatives of product and service designers across the Sony Group meet to formulate UI design standards for interactions, use of words and icons on devices and screens, and so on. The knowledge gained through usability testing, the expertise of the product development departments, and specific examples of UX design methods are shared across the Group, as well. UI design standards and expertise are posted on Sony's internal portal site so that everyone in the Sony Group has access to them. This information is used in product and service development as Sony continues to work to enhance usability for customers.
Sony holds forums and seminars led by experts to increase employee understanding of human-centered design and accessibility. In September 2018, Sony invited individuals with visual impairments to speak to employees about their day-to-day lives and relationship with Sony products to help employees better understand the needs of people with visual impairments.
Ease of use for everyone — that is what accessibility means to Sony.
Specific examples of this approach to products and services are described on the Sony Accessibility and Usability page at the Sony website.
The site showcases Sony products and services that are more comfortable and easier for people to enjoy. We divided them into three categories based on the senses: “VISION ASSIST—Easy to see / convert to sound,” “HEARING ASSIST—Easy to hear / convert to text,” and “ACTION ASSIST—Easy to use / support operation.”
Presenting examples of accessible Sony products and services in three categories
Sony participates in standardization efforts*1 to enhance accessibility, aiming to take a leading role in the industry.
In March 2019, as in the previous year, Sony took part in the CSUN Assistive Technology Conference, one of the largest international conferences on accessibility in the world, held in Anaheim, California. Sony introduced the accessibility functions of its products, including BRAVIA®, PlayStation®4, and the software Marvel's Spider-Man for PlayStation®4. In the same month, at South by Southwest (SXSW) 2019, held in Austin, Texas, Sony provided hands-on exhibits that could be enjoyed without relying on the sense of sight. For this booth, Sony Group creators irrespective of differences in abilities, gender, cultures and languages, adopted inclusive design*2 principles.
Sony also strives to reflect product feedback from diverse users. In developing televisions, Sony implements programs wherein users with visual impairments use products for a designated period of time and provide feedback to improve product design. In developing the system software for PlayStation®4, Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. uses repeated cycles of user testing to improve the accuracy of the product’s accessibility functions.
The Sony Group's effort to make its websites more accessible began with a set of Website Accessibility Guidelines issued on July 1, 2007. Over the years, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 have become the international standard. Recognizing this, Sony replaced its guidelines with the Sony Group Website Accessibility Policy, which is based on WCAG2.0 on April 1, 2016. This policy also requires the Sony Group’s external facing websites to comply within a specific period of time.
By designing and producing accessible websites based on the Sony Group Website Accessibility Policy, Sony is striving to improve and maintain the accessibility of all its websites so that every customer can enjoy a more user-friendly experience.
Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. (SIE) aims to make games as popular as music, movies and broadcasting and has beendeveloping the PlayStation® business for users in all age groups.
Console game industry organizations have responded to the proliferation of new game genres by introducing rating systems for customers in Japan, the United States and Europe (CERO, ESRB and PEGI, respectively), based on games' target age groups. The U.S. system has operated for more than 20 years and won top marks from the public, not only for indicating age categories but also for being the first to add descriptions that detail the contents of a game. PEGI is endorsed by the European Commission as a paradigm of self-regulation in the entertainment industry. In Japan, measures are being promoted to make the system more effective, including, with the cooperation of retailers, the voluntary refusal to sell software rated by CERO for ages 18 and above to underage customers.
To regulate access by underage users, SIE has included a Parental Control function in PlayStation®4, PlayStation®3 and PlayStation®Vita. This function enables customers to adjust access levels and limit children's access only to appropriate software across the PlayStation® platform.
As Internet use begins at younger and younger ages and Web-connected non-computer devices such as smartphones and tablets proliferate, the impact of harmful websites on children has become a social concern. Internet service provider Sony Network Communications Inc. offers various security services, which protects customer devices from threats such as viruses, hacking, and phishing, to provide a safer environment for families to use the Internet.