Computing and the Disabled
mike noble, luis maciel, jason katsampes

assistive technology 
barriers to access 
correct use
access at school
access at work
access at home
what can you do 
about our group 
barriers to access Consider what barriers exist for the disabled to access or benefit from these technologies. Is access based on financial status of the disabled recipient? Is access more readily available in the educational, home, or work environment? Is computer technology meeting the needs of the disabled community?
no knowledge of new technologies Most of the information regarding new technologies disseminated in written form is distributed only in english. It is difficult for a person whose spoken language is not english, and certainly for a person suffering from illiteracy, to learn of new assistive technologies. Creators of these technologies need to target their marketing and and tailor information to those demographic groups who might not otherwise be reached. These groups include residents in rural areas and inner cities, families on reservations, and senior citizens.

The placement of information centers is also a key factor. While Palo Alto may be a convenient location for companies and manufacturers, if the majority of consumers needing the information and technology are in San Jose, their needs are not met.

technology too expensive Much of the technology available to assist disabled users is extremely expensive. Computers are constantly decreasing in price while increasing in performance, in accordance with Moore's law. As of March, 1999, Microworkz was offering a PC for as little as $300. However, the additional adaptive hardware and the driving and application software can range upwards of $10,000 per user. These costs are most likely not covered by medical insurance, and may be especially hard to bear for the disabled person who already must pay for the costs of other specialized products and services. In addition, there are also the costs of maintenance and upgrades which figure into the bottom line.
correct use In most cases assistive technologies incorporate very sophisticated equipment. Setting up the equipment for first-time use, and keeping it performing as intended, may require significant time and skill. There may also a steep learning curve involved and perhaps a prerequisite level of computer literacy. These factors work to keep many helpful technologies out of the hands of those who could truly benefit from them.
discrepancies in access at school Privately-run child care centers — like other public accommodations such as private schools, recreation centers, restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and banks — must comply with Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Child care services provided by state and local goverment agencies, such as Head Start, summer programs, and extended school day programs must comply with Title II of the ADA.

Also, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) (formerly called P. L. 94-142 or the Education for all Handicapped Children Act of 1975) requires public schools to make available to all eligible children with disabilities a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment appropriate to their individual needs.

However, there is ambiguity whether these acts will also ensure that technology is incorporated. Schools have budgets that may restrict the use of the technology because of the expense.

discrepancies in access at work The ADA calls for reasonable accomodation of disabled employees. Corporations must make existing facilities used by employees readily accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The qualifier "reasonable" is important. There are large costs associated with providing these required accomodations, and small companies might not be able afford 100% compliance.
discrepancies in access at home Unfortunately, there are no congressional acts that will ensure computer and technology access is made available in the homes of disabled individuals.

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