[Interview] How Samsung TVs and RNIB Are Setting a New Benchmark for Accessible Technology – Samsung Global Newsroom


Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), has dedicated his career to creating an inclusive environment. In this role, he not only represents the two million blind or partially sighted people in the U.K., but also advocates for the development of inclusive technology around the world.

 

There are many nuances around technological inclusivity, from widespread misconceptions about disabilities to the unique needs of every individual. Through the partnership between Samsung and RNIB, Robin lends his perspective and expertise to help the two organizations navigate these complexities with the ultimate goal of creating “Screens for All.”

 

Samsung Newsroom sat down with Robin to shed light on what today’s inclusive technology looks like, discuss his work with Samsung and get his perspective on what the future holds in the world of accessibility.

 

▲ Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at the Royal National Institute of Blind People

 

Robin Spinks is Head of Inclusive Design at the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), spearheading efforts in global digital service and product accessibility. Before joining RNIB, Robin spent five years in Africa working collaboratively with NGOs, overseas governments and a leading assistive technology company in the U.K. to create a bespoke affordable screen reading and magnification solution for low resource environments. Now at RNIB for nearly 15 years, he continues to advocate for inclusive technology.

 

 

Assessing the Need for Accessible Technology

Spinks and his team work to improve the design and usability of products and services to ensure they are accessible to all individuals, while reinforcing the organization’s commitment to improving usability and accessibility in every aspect of daily life.

 

▲ Robin Spinks, Head of Inclusive Design at RNIB (right) speaks with Richard Moreton, Samsung (left)

 

Advocating for accessibility across such a diverse portfolio of products and services comes with unique difficulties, Spinks pointed out. “Some people will benefit from magnification, so enabling a zoom functionality on a portion of the screen, for example, will help optimize their viewing experience. Some may need assistance with edge detection or making the edges more discernible so they can follow the action on the screen,” says Spinks.

 

Today’s technology is more integrated into our daily lives than ever before and there are countless possibilities to innovate around the user experience.  Samsung and RNIB have embarked on this partnership together to shape the future of accessible viewing by creating uniquely powerful and accessible features that will innovate the viewing experience for all.

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▲ “We’ve worked on everything from showers to bank machines, smart TVs to smartwatches, mobile phones to apps, digital services, eLearning and much more,” said Spinks

 

 

Power of Partnership: Samsung and RNIB’s Joint Mission for Better Accessibility

Traditional televisions can present challenges for those living with visual disabilities. Samsung and RNIB, however, have worked collaboratively to address this for nearly a decade, leveraging the power of technology to create a more inclusive viewing experience.

 

RNIB is heavily involved in testing user accessibility features, leveraging community insights and pain points to drive innovation. Combined with Samsung’s technological prowess and leadership in the television industry, Samsung Smart TVs and screens continue to incorporate groundbreaking improvements in their accessibility features and functions.

 

Born out of this partnership are some popular features like Relumino Mode.1 Relumino Mode is designed to help improve the viewing experience for those with low vision, making it possible for more people to engage with and enjoy their favorite content. By enhancing specific parts of videos — such as highlighting outlines and improving contrast, color and sharpness — it is easier to discern content on the screen and follow all the actions. This important feature is designed to be powerful and customizable, so that it can work as a solution for all.

 

The collaborative efforts between Samsung and RNIB are making a real impact, and among the many companies RNIB works with, the partnership with Samsung stands out, according to Spinks. “Samsung is leading the pack when it comes to accessible television, not just here in the U.K. but around the world,” he said. “It’s been a brilliant thing to be part of that story and to continue to see it developing and evolving professionally and personally. It’s been genuinely gratifying to be a part of something so powerful.”

 

▲ Robin Spinks explores Relumino Mode on a Neo QLED TV

 

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Through the partnership, Samsung’s Smart TVs have earned RNIB’s “Tried and Tested” Certification, which is awarded to products based on their suitability for people who are blind or partially sighted. Not only does this certification help guide consumer purchasing decisions, but it also holds manufacturers accountable to design products with all users in mind.

 

▲ Samsung’s Relumino mode offers customization of intensity appropriate to various viewing conditions

 

 

A Glimpse Into the Future of Accessible Tech

Samsung’s cutting-edge Relumino Mode is transforming home entertainment, making it more inclusive and accessible for all. And in Spinks’ experience, reception to Relumino mode has been positive. So why not expand its reach?

 

Spinks highlighted that there are two million people in the U.K. today with significant sight loss, and by 2050, that number is expected to double to four million — a considerable number of people who would benefit from an increase in accessible technology. “Think about all the devices that have a digital interface or screen. I think it would be interesting to look at those other devices, and other applications, where Relumino Mode could be useful.”

 

▲ A blurry vision goggle simulation of what Relumino Mode may look like to people with visual impairment

 

Spinks suggested that this type of technology should be expanded to a range of products that consumers encounter on a daily basis. Using public kiosks to order food, purchasing a train ticket, signing in digitally at the doctor’s office, and everything in between should be an equitable and accessible experience for all. “Our quest really is to achieve a culture where there are no barriers for people with sight loss when they’re accessing the digital world,” he said.

 

▲ Samsung Relumino Mode’s technology highlights outline while improving contrast and color for enhanced clarity

 

As we look to the future of accessible technology, he envisions a “dynamic mix of increased inbuilt mainstream technology” and more specialist support for specific use cases. He sees the need for accessibility to grow alongside operating systems.

 

When asked what advice he would give to companies or designers looking to develop accessibility features, he said, “Above all, talk to users and listen to their stories. Actively listen and understand the barriers that they’re facing and if you can, use a bit of simulation that enables you to learn and understand that.” He went on to say, “One of the best things about investing in accessibility is that everybody benefits from the fruits of your labors.”

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▲ “It’s not just about providing solutions. Make accessibility features interesting,” said Spinks.

 

At the center of it all is a great user experience for everyone. “That’s the critical element and ultimately, that’s what it will be judged by — how easy and pleasing it is to use,” Spinks adds. “It’s about creating and co-creating thoughtful experiences that people don’t just find easy to use, but want to go back and use time and time again because they enjoy the experience.”

 

Spinks noted that designers, manufacturers, and engineers alike must adopt a forward-thinking attitude towards improving the user experience, offering a roadmap for the future of inclusive technology. “People talk about technological progress, but from our point of view, it’s only progress if it’s equitable,” he said. “If technology is inherently visual, that’s then exclusive and people with a visual impairment find it harder to participate in to enjoy those technologies.”

 

Samsung and RNIB understand that, particularly when it comes to televisions as accessibility features are designed to create more equitable and enjoyable experiences for all. “What’s especially impressive about Relumino Mode is it doesn’t visually disturb the picture to the point where non-visually impaired people would dislike watching,” Spinks said. “I can sit down with my family and for the first time actually enjoy watching the TV together.”

 

The journey toward a completely accessible technological landscape is far from over, but with the combined efforts of committed advocates like Robin Spinks and innovators like Samsung, progress will be made. Samsung and RNIB share the perspective that advancements in accessible technology underline the essential truth: technology should, and must, be for everyone.

 

To learn more about Samsung’s accessible technology, visit https://www.samsung.com/.

 

For more information on the Royal National Institute of Blind People, visit https://www.rnib.org.uk/.

 

 

1 Relumino Mode targets those who suffer from severe visual acuity loss (Source: WHO, World report on vision, 2019) and symptoms of blurry vision. This feature is not intended for use in the diagnosis of disease or other conditions, or in the cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of any disease or medical problem. Any information found, acquired, or accessed through this feature is made available for your convenience and should not be treated as medical advice.
Some features may be supported at a different time, and service availability may not be available at the time of purchase of this product. Relumino Mode is applied for TV models QN80C, QN90C, QN800C, QN900C and works on sources provided through DTV and HDMI only. The Mode does not work on other sources, OTTs, etc.

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