Sunday, January 18, 2009

Leaving the PAC Mate Behind

Everyone who follows the AT field knows that apdative technology for the blind is extremely overpriced. The only ones who will tell you differently are those who gain the profits from this field. I will gratn that some products are important to the blind, speech output programs being chief among these, and Braille displays being a helpful (if all to unfortunately underused and overpriced) another. I submit however that apart from Serotek these and all other products are far overpriced.

I have always held that as much mainstreaming as possible, in education as well as technology, is best for everyone involved. This is due in part to the social intergration, it adds to acceptance of blind people as normal people who can't see when one uses an iPod or standard mobile phone or laptop as opposed to an odd looking device that looks like it comes fresh from 1970s science fiction.

The other factor is that of the market place. If inovation comes more regularly in the mainstream market (as the article above argues) then everyone, blind and sighted, benefit from such novations. Unfortunately novation is a lost word in the AT field. Apart from the novation of Serotek and the Stream from Humanware, there has been limited or non exsistant. The time is long past for us as blind people to put our money, and that which is used on our behalf by Voc Rehab and others, where our best interests lie, in the mainstream market. As the article notes some adaptive technology is very much needed to make mainstream technology work, but just because it is needed does not mean it needs to be overpriced rubbish. I commend Serotek for its inovation and ask all others in the AT field to think long and hard about how to best meet your client's needs. Will putting them on a device that may fall far behind the mainstream and be overpriced really the best answer? For some it may be yes, but I think for the majority it will be a solid no.

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