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Assistive technologies

August 5th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

I have been in Swindon for the last two days, visiting my elderly parents. My mother is having some problems walking and my fathers eyesight has deteriorated considerably.

Unable to get out often , my father misses particularly being able to read.  And this is where assistive technologies should come in. Surely in this MP3 driven world of connectivity he should be able to find a something to read him the football news in the morning or read a historical novel. Except no – it would seem.

The present range of assistive technologies seem to assume the ability to operate a computer. Furthermore few devices are designed for those with visual difficulties. In fact my fathers favorite gadget is a watch with two buttons to press for an audio version of the date and the time. He does get some audio books on CD ROM from a local charity. But he has no choice of what book they give him. And although the lcoal library also has CDROMs for audio books, he is unable to see to select them (and my mother unable to walk to select them!).

I know the EU is funding a research programme strand on assistive technologies. I am going to be looking with some interest in what they are actually producing. Because it seems to me that in the commercial world, developers and manufacturers are more interested in maximising their profits on the mass market, than in designing for those with disabilities.

NB I would be very grateful for any ideas you might have on this.

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