Editorial and Comment

Litigation and chaos  »

09/11/2016

Kevin Carey argues against the elite's use of regulation.

Brewing up a storm  »

09/11/2016

Editor John Lamb wonders which way AT is blowing.

Access at a snail's pace  »

20/05/2013

Two steps forward and one step back

Page 1 of 6 forward

Brewing up a storm

Assistive technology has come of age when members of parliament decide the time is right to hold an exhibition of the high tech products and services that aid disabled people.

The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Disability, one of the largest cross party groups, is planning just such an event this autumn.

The Victorian splendour of the Palace of Westminster will ring with the chirrup of voice output systems and the hum of electric wheelchairs.

Although few of these devices will belong to MPs as there are only two members of the House of Commons who are known to be disabled.

The timing is spot on since this small, vital and ingenious area of technological endeavour is entering a perfect storm of change.

From the north, the chill winds of austerity and cuts are still blowing and are likely to continue to do so for some time, if the forecast by the writer on the opposite page is even partly realised.

Despite falling prices, disabled people continue to struggle to fund the equipment that in many areas of life is vital for accessing digital services.

From the south, balmier winds are blowing. The apps revolution and plunging manufacturing costs mean that the range of assistive technology available to disabled people has never been greater.

Assistive technology even looks prettier and is certainly more available, as increasing numbers of mainstream manufacturers incorporate assistive elements into their products.

Hearing aids connected to the internet, spectacles that can identify people’s faces and driverless cars are just some of the innovations we report on in this issue of Ability.

Further turbulence is being injected into this high tech weather system by difficulties in developing assistive technology and persuading people to try out new things.

Although there is no shortage of bright ideas coming forward it is becoming more difficult to bring them to market as money and expertise becomes scarcer.

It is also important to manage expectations. Often people can have exaggerated ideas about how quickly and easily AT can deliver. It requires support, training and proper supervision to be effective.

This is doubly so when 65% of disabled people are offer 65.

The outlook for assistive technology in the Palace of Westminster looks bright as a group of MPs aim to set up an All-Party Parliamentary Group on Assistive Technology.

Outside the Westminster bubble, however, the weather is much more changeable.

 



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