Our speaker on Monday, Gary Bishop, helped make us aware of the usability issues that the disabled deal with on a daily basis. It is obvious that new technologies are assisting with these growing problems, but they are also making it more difficult. Each new technology deals with a new set of issues that the disabled are forced to deal with. I cannot imagine trying to keep up with the world today without eyesight, or be one of the teenagers with cerebral palsy who must sit and watch the other kids read or play games wishing they could participate. Technologies I rely on daily such as text messaging or online news would become difficult to use.
Luckily technology has allowed us to create screen readers so we can get up to date news. And now video games and books can be more interactive to allow disabled kids to play, but these tools come at a great price. Because there aren’t enough users to drive down the price.
Dr. Bishop mentioned the ultimate issue is the cost of keep up with these new technologies. This high need with low number of users has driven the price of these devices to the point that what he believes only the Universities can supply them. The question is does it become our responsibility as an institution to supply the disabled with usability applications and devices such as the ones he presented? And can there be a market for private industry to develop cost-efficient products?