The Impact Developers Have On Peoples Lives

Saturday, April 2nd 2016

Apple released two videos today (Dillans Path & Dillians Voice) for Autism Acceptance Month. These two videos show Dillian, a middle school kid who suffers from Autism, and how the iPad has helped unshackle him from his inability to communicate. While watching videos I couldn't stop thinking about how developers forget how much of an impact on the world we have. We like to focus on optimizing metrics like a "3x improvement on rendering speed" or "10x improvement on your build times". We lose sight on the fact that we have a bigger impact on the world. More than speed improvements. More than improving code quality.

We can change people's lives.

The world is changing. We're getting our way and everything is slowly becoming digitalized. I've been asking for this since I was in high school because, ya know, I'm a millennial and digital is the best thing ever. But with everything becoming digital that means we have to think about accessibility as a requirement rather than a nice have. It's quickly becoming the defacto standard for everything and that means we have to make sure everyone can use what we build. We're mainstream now (sorry hipsters).

I will always have tremendous respect for Apple and the work they do for people that rely on assistive technology. Without this work Dillian would have a harder time communicating. My mom went 100% blind a year after I was born and I grew up watching my mom struggle through things. Struggle to use the TV, the stove, the $2500 phone that was supposed to solve all of her problems. Everything becomes a challenge when you're disabled.

Developers have a much bigger impact on the world than we realize. We can sit and argue about which framework is better and how one does x better than y, but that's not as important as touching and improving people's lives.

Please stop and think about the impact you have on people's lives as a developer. It's much larger than you think. Technology can be extremely helpful or extremely fustrating for those who are disabled. Let's strive to make it an experience like Dillians.