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Monday, February 1, 2010

Accessible Design - Guest Blogger 05

It's a sad but true fact. Technology for people who are
deaf-blind is seriously lacking. So often, what we call "new"
technology is actually outdated. It's old and clunky. When it
breaks, it can't be repaired because the company has stopped
making the device.

We read so much about the newest and latest technology... and
none of it is accessible. We can't hear the voice. We can't
read the print. There's no braille display. The touch screen or
controller is impossible to use. Deaf-blind people cry out,
"It's so unfair!"

It IS unfair but it's not surprising. Deaf-blindness is rare.
We are such a tiny group. It's really not cost effective for a
company to create and maintain technology for us.

This is a great article about accessible design by another new
guest blogger. He really gets to the point and explain the
situation in a way that all can understand.

When we think about accessibility for DB people, we need to think
about how this would benefit sighted hearing people too.
Companies aren't interested in making their products accessible
for DB people because it doesn't make business sense. There are
not many deafblind people, and we don't have a lot of money.
Businesses won't design accessible products because they're good
for deafblind people, but they will design accessible products if
those products make good business sense for a larger market.

Here is an analogy: Before there were curb cuts and ramps in
many places, there was a lot of complaining in the business
community about how expensive it is to build ramps. Business
people said that they didn't need to do it because people who use
wheelchairs didn't visit their businesses. Then when the ADA
forced them to build ramps, look who uses the ramps most. It's
not people using wheelchairs, it's people pushing strollers! Now
millions of stroller-pushing parents are big supporters of ramps
and curb cuts, and building ramps has a clear financial incentive
for businesses.

There are two things deafblind people can do:

1. Support H.R. 3101
2. Think of ways that accessibility for deafblind people can be
useful to sighted hearing people.

I'm interested to hear people's ideas about how technology that's
accessible to DB people will be better for all people.

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