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Study finds technology failing special needs

June 29, 2005

Categories: Technology

A study by the charity Sense has shown that deafblind people find technology difficult to use, despite the fact that many rely on technology for communication, access to information and achieving independence. Nearly 50% of those surveyed who used assistive technology were experiencing difficulty.

The people surveyed reported difficulty in using everyday devices such as remote controls, cookers, mobile phones and washing machines.

The survey was commissioned by Sense to mark the start of Deafblind Awareness Week and to celebrate its 50th anniversary.

Respondents to the survey highlighted the following problems:

  • Inadequate assistance when purchasing items
  • Information not available as audio, large print or Braille
  • The miniaturisation of mobile phones
  • The print in instruction manuals being too small

Sense suggested that manufacturers could improve their designs by:

  • Seeking advice from deafblind people at the design stage
  • Using tactile aids such as large, raised buttons on phones and keyboards
  • Using large text on buttons and keys in a contrasting colour to the background
  • Fitting large screens to small devices such as mobile phones and enabling the text size to be adjusted
  • Ensuring similar types of controls operate in a consistent way
  • Ensuring that instruction manuals are written in plain English with large illustrations and in a variety of formats

Sense is urging the government to take a lead and to work at European level to make sure that deafblind people are able to buy accessible manufactured goods.

The report’s authors were Lucy Drescher and Nick Southern.

Link: Study finds technology failing special needs