I have long thought that it is close to obscene that ICTs designed to suport people with disabilities are often much more expensive than the standard computers and mobile ‘phones that most of us take for granted. In large part, this is because of relatively low demand for assistive technologies.
However, ICTs can transform the lives of people with serious disabilities much more than they can help those of us who have fewer disabilities.
There is a huge debate about the value (or otherwise) of refurbished computers being sent to the poorer countries of the world – and there are clearly examples of good and bad practices in this field. Ideally we should strive to bring down prices of assistive technology so that people in poorer countries can afford them – but the reality is that this is unlikely to happen. It is great to see some companies such as Apple, building its universal access software into every computer it sells – but everyone is not so enlightened.
I am therefore exploring the possibility of working with companies producing assistive technology hardware and existing computer refurbishment organisations to collect and distribute such hardware to people in the poorer countries of the world. I would be really interested in people’s thoughts on this – and particularly on offers of help.
In the meanwhile, the ICT4D Collective has a page on accessibility/disability which might be of interest to readers of this blog!