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Issues in technology usage for disabled people in the UK (poster presentation)

Jennifer Harris, University of Dundee


Issues in Technology Usage for Disabled People in the UK This paper reports on the outcome of a series of 'User Clubs' or fora in which disabled people talked about their everyday use of technology. The main issue of concern for users was cost of devices and how to secure sufficient funds to buy and update them. The 'disability market' of specialised devices that carry a hefty premium was a source of much discontent for users. Other issues were: . Specialised devices were described as oversized, overpriced and ugly . Access to full information on new products and capabilities to solve the problems of assisted living is missing . Training in use of devices missing or unaffordable (not considered by manufacturers, especially in non-specialised market) . Unaffordability of updates for software and programs requiring newer/ faster capacity to run Computers had myriad uses including Word processing, games, music, Voice software, Finding out about new items, E-mail, Braille translation and writing speeches to transfer to a Communicator. In relation to computing the following issues arose: . Training: Need for training (expensive and vital).Manuals were 'useless' - disabled people require one-to-one demonstration. Tutors are very expensive and out of reach. Complexity of computer programs is off-putting . Internet: Worry about dial up costs puts users off internet use. Do designers consider functionality when designing? Reluctance to use internet for buying items due to lack of training. . Breakdown: Reliability is key- breakdown means being 'stuck'. Remote fixing of the computer is (via phone) is helpful. Breakdown is an extremely urgent issue when person relies on computer for communication . General: Under-use of the considerable number of features/capacity. Feeling 'left behind' by technology. Some users only got access through schemes to computers (Access to Work; business award scheme).

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