We strive for a society where everyone shares the moment, pursuing initiatives such as inclusive design that deliver new experiental value.
To ensure that its products and services can be used by as many people as possible, including people with disabilities, the Sony Group conducts interviews and usability tests with people with disabilities during the planning and development process, and reflects the results in its products and services.
Each year, the TV segment provides opportunities for people with disabilities to experience our products firsthand with a view to improving accessibility. In 2020, we held a hands-on experience event online for customers with visual impairments.
We listened to a wide range of opinions about the ease of obtaining information on accessibility, as well as the voice control and text-to-speech functions installed on TVs, and worked together with participants to consider ways to improve accessibility.
The Sony Group has established regular dialogs with organizations of people with disabilities in order to further improve the usability of Sony products and services. Sony North America and Sony Europe, in cooperation with organizations for people with visual and hearing impairments, are engaged in various activities to proactively incorporate the opinions of people with disabilities. Examples include usability tests aimed at product improvements and working with people with visual impairments on product display stand prototypes equipped with Braille and audio guides.
To give individuals of all ages and abilities the opportunity to enjoy games and other, content and services, Sony Interactive Entertainment is constantly working through trial and error on improving accessibility on PlayStation®.
Sony took part in SXSW (South by Southwest) 2019, the world's largest creative business festival in Austin, Texas, in March 2019.
Sony showcased its new initiative on inclusive design by presenting the experiential exhibit “CAVE without a LIGHT.”
Sony is involved in various efforts to contribute to culture and sports using technology. One experimental initiative has been to use Sony’s original Bluetooth®-related technology to provide support for snow sports athletes, who can find themselves in some rugged outdoor surroundings.
A technology was developed to allow simultaneous calls between several people within a radius of up to 1 kilometer, even when they are on a mountaintop or other areas where it is difficult to find Internet-connectivity or even a mobile phone signal. Users only need to attach a device equipped with this technology onto their ski helmets to carry out hands-free conversations with coaches, teammates and others who are at some distance from them. The technology has been adopted for experimental use during training by Japanese ski athletes (belonging to the Ski Association of Japan, Japan Para-Ski Federation, etc.) who are expected to be part of the Japan national team.
It is a technology that is useful not only for serious competitors. The device will also enable children or foreigners, who may have no previous snow sports experience, to receive lessons from instructors or through interpreters. It is a technology that will support the achievement of a safe environment in which everyone, from top athletes to beginners, can enjoy sports.
Dr. Ken Endo of the Sony Computer Science Laboratories (Sony CSL) focuses on three main areas of research related to prosthetic limbs: 1) robotic legs that come closer to emulating human gait using motors to reproduce ankle and knee functions; 2) affordable, locally manufactured prosthetic limbs for developing countries where there are many people with lower limb disabilities, such as India, where he was posted; and 3) competition prosthetics to support athletes.
Dr. Endo dreams of seeing an athlete with a prosthetic limb running just as fast, or faster, than an athlete without a disability in sprint races. If that happens, it will completely revolutionize the future of disabled sports. This fitness prosthetic research raises the possibility of creating technology that can boost athletes' potential beyond their natural capacities, whether they have disabilities or not. In this way, technology might eliminate the line between "abled" and "disabled" almost entirely. With this vision in mind, Dr. Endo carries out his research each day.
The Last of Us Part II
The Last of Us Part II has won various awards including "Game of the Year" at The Game Awards (TGA), one of the world's top gaming prizes. Among them, the "Innovation in Accessibility Award" was established this year. This award was established this year to honor games that make maximum use of functions, technology, and content to enhance enjoyment for a wider range of users.
The Last of Us Part II has more than 60 different accessibility settings to enable a wider range of players to enjoy the game. The accessibility functions of the earlier Uncharted 4: A Thief's End have been enhanced to feature greatly expanded audio and more refined mobility options. Various visual settings can be adjusted to suit the user's disability level. Our success in winning the inaugural Innovation in Accessibility Award is the result of our pursuit of the best possible gaming experiences for each and every player.
The International Association for Universal Design (IAUD) presents the IAUD International Design Awards for universal design (UD) excellence. The awards recognize organizations and individuals who have "conducted or proposed particularly noteworthy activities aimed at realizing a UD society."
The SRS-LSR200 Wireless Handy TV Speaker is equipped with a remote control function that makes TV audio easier to hear close by, away from the TV. Following SRS-LSR100's winning in 2019, SRS-200 won the bronze award in the Product Design category in 2020. These speakers automatically adjust volume according to ambient sounds to help the viewer hear audio better and make dialog crisper and clearer. The large volume control with integrated power button is also simple for anyone to use. This award recognized these points.
Toy Platform toio™
Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. has won Best Video Presentation Award for "The Importance of Inclusive Design in New Business: The Case of Robot Toy Platform toio" at the 2020 Winter HCD Research Meeting hosted online by the Human Centered Design Organization (HCD-Net).
HCD Research Presentations have been held since 2009 as a forum for presenting research and case studies on human-centered design (HCD) and usability.
The toio presentation introduced cases where user feedback was repeatedly reflected in the product from the planning and design stages onwards. As an example, one of the users who had used the product said, "I couldn't play with it because I couldn't distinguish the colors." To remedy the situation, we used colors and lettering to enable anyone to differentiate one box from another quickly and accurately.
The product received high praise for its excellent content and potential for future progress in research because of its consistent approach to inclusive design issues from the initial product development stage onwards.
Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. Official Website
Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. has won the Excellence Award in the Accessibility Award category, Corporate Grand Prix Category at the 8th Web Grand Prix, organized by the Japan Advertisers Association Inc. and the Web Advertising Bureau. Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd.'s official website uses high contrast to help customers read the information, and user flows that can be navigated without a mouse. The website was praised for making it easier for more customers to reach and use the information it offers.
Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. is proactively working to improve the accessibility of its website and other points of contact with customers. The aim is to create a convenient website that provides engaging content for all users, including those with disabilities, those who are temporarily unable to perform normal operations due to illness or injury, and the elderly.
Sony Corporation received the Excellence Prize of HCD-Net AWARD 2019 for its CAVE without a LIGHT experiential entertainment, a display of Inclusive Design practices and processes.
The Human-Centered Design Organization (HCD-Net) sponsors the HCD-Net AWARD to commend excellence in knowledge and know how in the area of Human Centered Design. CAVE without a LIGHT was recognized as an excellent example of Inclusive Design that enables visitors to experience the sensations felt by people with disabilities by involving the latter in creating an inspired entertainment. It was also praised for its ongoing cross-organizational efforts in the area of Inclusive Design.
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.
Entertainment Access Glasses
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.
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.
Two Sony product manuals received awards at the Japan Manual Awards 2018 hosted by the Japan Technical Communicators Association. The first was “toio tsukaikata gaido (toio instruction manual)” for Toy Platform toio™, which won an excellence award for the General – Paper Category. The second was “aibo to no kurashi no hajime kata (How to begin life with aibo)” for entertainment robot “aibo,” which won the encouragement award.
The manual for Toy Platform toio™ was recognized because the tutorial was written to be read by children themselves. Various means were taken to help children enjoy reading the manual and playing with the product. For example, colors were changed for each chapter, and illustrations were combined with a casual writing style. Ample space was given to the margins, and the design helped make things easy for children to understand.
The design of the manual for aibo consists of many illustrations. It looks like a picture book which becomes the start of the invaluable story born by aibo and the owners living together. Each page describes a single procedure, written in large font. It was designed to provide the reader with a stress-free reading experience. Care was also taken in the words that were chosen to give a sense that the aibo is actually alive. For example, the owner does not “use” aibo but rather “lives” with aibo and the owner “wakes up” aibo instead of “starts up” aibo.
In order to achieve its purpose, which is to "Fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology," the entire Sony Group is engaged in initiatives to improve accessibility and creating a world no limitations.
A team that promotes accessibility and inclusive design across the group stands at the core of efforts involving cooperation with the people responsible for promoting accessibility in the business units. Having established a globally consistent set of standards and systems, we are using them as the basis for continuous improvements. We provide comprehensive support for the Sony Group's accessibility-related activities, including employee training, company-wide lectures, surveys and evaluation tools designed to improve accessibility, and the introduction of inclusive design.
Regular general meetings of managers in charge of promoting accessibility at business units work under the supervision of executive officers of the Sony Group Corporation to monitor the progress of activities and improvement plans.
Centered on an accessibility promotion group, Sony is carrying out various activities in Japan, the United States and elsewhere. The third Thursday in May each year is Global Accessibility Awareness Day. On this day, the in-house intranet is used to familiarize everyone within the Sony Group with its accessibility activities and carry out other global educational activities. Our American office holds a major event about accessibility on the same day. In 2020, we raised employee interest by introducing Sony's accessibility-conscious products and prototypes online. As part of its efforts, Sony Interactive Entertainment LLC has worked closely with accessibility consultant Paul Amadeus Lane, and has featured interviews with SIE game developers on his popular YouTube channel. Mr. Lane, a C-6 Quadriplegic, is very active at the forefront of his work as an accessibility consultant and a TV & radio personality.
Sony Life Insurance Co., Ltd. and Sony Assurance Inc. provide sign language and written communication services to facilitate inquiries from customers with hearing or speech disabilities. Operators use their sign language interpretation skills for sign language or written conversations with customers.
At its annual General Meetings of shareholders, Sony provides special seating areas to facilitate access by shareholders who use wheelchairs, as well as simultaneous English-language interpretation services and information accessibility support for shareholders with visual or hearing impairments. For people with visual impairments, audio commentaries to the slide presentations projected on to the screen at the meeting venue are provided via wireless headphones. People with hearing impairments are provided with written transcripts summarizing the proceedings. The written transcripts are shown on a special monitor under the stage, providing a real-time summary of what the speakers are saying.
Shareholders who made use of the information support services were very complimentary, saying that they made the General Meeting easier to follow and enjoy.
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