Industry-Consumer Alliance for Accessible Technology (ICAAT)

Hard-of-hearing businessman and colleague

One in seven Americans now has hearing loss, and the World Health Organization estimates that hearing loss will affect some 2.5 billion people worldwide by 2050. While new technologies help people with hearing loss more successfully communicate, live, and work, everyday consumer products often are developed without the valuable input of people with hearing accessibility needs.

The Industry-Consumer Alliance for Accessible Technology (ICAAT) is an online program that seeks to improve accessible technology for people who are Deaf or have hearing loss by putting them at the center of product design and development. 

The ICAAT Program

ICAAT provides an easy, structured way for industry and consumers to connect, work together, and inspire better technology from the ground up.

You're at a competitive disadvantage if your products aren't accessible to people with hearing loss. Our vision is to make products accessible from the beginning. ICAAT helps industry achieve this via collaborating directly with consumers."

- Christian Vogler, Director, Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center, Gallaudet University

ICAAT has four main elements:

  • ICAAT's Tech Forum is a virtual community of practice welcoming consumers and technology producers. The Tech Forum facilitates discussions between and among consumers and technology developers, encourages the sharing of experiences, knowledge, and ideas around technology topics, and curates relevant resources and event listings.
  • ICAAT's User Stories share the insights and experiences of everyday consumers with those who work to develop, improve, and expand the use of communication-assistive technologies and mainstream consumer technologies. Personal stories about the daily challenges that consumers, or “users,” face are a valuable and effective way to foster empathy and begin the design process for technology solutions.
  • ICAAT's Co-Design Connect is a place where industry representatives can post opportunities for market research and product testing and consumers can learn about and respond to these recruitment opportunities. Industry may also request consultation with subject matter experts at Hearing Loss Association of America.
  • ICAAT's Co-Design Essentials provides practical information for consumer and industry participants when working with each other. The information touches on a whole variety of topics, such as the product design and development process and understanding consent and data usage for consumers. For industry, topics such as communication preferences and best practices for providing communication access are discussed.

ICAAT is a five-year development project (2019-2024) of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing Technology Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center (DHH Tech RERC) at Gallaudet University in partnership with AIR and Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). The DHH Tech RERC is funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR).

AIR is a subcontractor to Gallaudet University (along with HLAA) under the NIDILRR-funded DHH Tech RERC, providing technical assistance, including strategic planning, UX design, web development, and communications/dissemination.