Updated on August 23, 2017
"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.
As technological advances bring about increasingly multifunctional consumer electronic products with more advanced user interfaces, Sony aims to deliver products and services that are easy to use and comfortable to operate. Based on user-centered design (UCD) concepts, Sony focuses on the user's perspective at every stage of the development process, from surveys and planning to design and assessment.
Sony products and services are used around the world, so usability must be achieved throughout the world, whatever the culture and lifestyle may be like in any given region. Sony has established a coordinated usability testing structure and environment that includes Sony sites in Japan, North America, Europe, India, China, and other countries around the world. Sony conducts worldwide user research through home visits and user interviews in order to incorporate the user's perspective from the very beginning of product development.
In the design and assessment stages, usability factors such as viewability, understandability, and responsiveness can be verified. Sony actively conducts usability testing in the environments where consumers live and use Sony products. Based on the results, Sony repeats cycles of detecting and correcting usability problems to enhance the usability of its products before they are launched.
In addition to pre-release testing of products, Sony also conducts long-term use surveys and interviews actual users to gain an understanding of customer satisfaction regarding usability and any usability problems that have arisen with purchased Sony products used on a day-to-day basis.
In terms of in-house initiatives, Sony has established an employee UI tester system under which employees can volunteer to take part in certain aspects of usability testing.
Via these initiatives, Sony employs a user-centered approach to design that offers a multifaceted approach to product usability for Sony customers.
Representatives of product and service designers across the Sony Group meet to formulate the usability standards to which Sony is committed. They prepare UI design standards for words and icons used on devices and screens, and for operation rules. The knowledge gained through usability testing and the expertise of the product development departments are shared in the meetings.
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.
To ensure that as many people as possible are able to use its products and services, Sony conducts interviews and usability testing with a large sample of individuals, including those with specific disabilities, and works to ensure that its research results are reflected in final products and services. Furthermore, Sony takes a leading role in the industry's effort to achieve product accessibility standardization.*
Specific examples of this approach to products and services are described on the Sony Accessibility and Usability website.
With its focus on improving the quality of its websites, Sony released a set of website accessibility guidelines on July 1, 2007. Over the years since then, the W3C Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 have become the international standard. Recognizing this, Sony revised its website accessibility guidelines and renamed them the Sony Group Website Accessibility Policy on April 1, 2016. This revision, based on WCAG 2.0, Sony added a compliance clause that requires compliance within a specific period of time to WCAG 2.0 Level A for all items other than those deemed to require reasonable endeavors.
The Sony Group Website Accessibility Policy applies to the public websites of all Sony Group companies and aims to maintain and improve accessibility for users of all Sony Group websites. Sony strives to create and maintain accessible websites that are easy for all individuals to use; whenever changes are made to website content or new pages are created, Sony complies with its Website Accessibility Policy and, as necessary, gives due consideration to the laws, regulations, and guidelines in each country where Sony operates.
Sony Interactive Entertainment (SIE) aims to make games as popular as music, movies and broadcasting and has been developing 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.