Comment from Clive: Microsoft’s Eye Control feature heralds a new era in computer accessibility

clive-gilbertFor a young disabled person growing up in the 1990s and early 2000s, just as the personal computer was launching its invasion of homes, schools and workplaces; technological development offered a tantalising glimpse of future liberations from restrictions imposed by my impairment. I have cerebral palsy which means that my condition is unlikely to change very much but, from early on, the running presumption was that technological progress would alleviate some of the resulting disadvantages.

During my teenage years, I could see how word processing, email, instant messaging, web browsing and any number of other software applications might revolutionise the way I worked and played. Yet, at the same time, I was frustrated that my lack of fine motor control meant that I was unable to use a mouse and keyboard.

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Comment from Clive: The digital divide between older and young people represents a wasted opportunity for the technology industry

clive-gilbertOlder people have many advantages over the young. The accumulation of years brings experience, wisdom and contentment. Older age can also be a time of discovery, when the commitments of family and working life recede and give way to personal interests and pursuits.

While older people have far more opportunities for self fulfilment in later life than ever before, they are still less likely to be able to enjoy the benefits of the digital age. The latest figures show that people aged 65 and over are less likely to have access to the internet or own a smartphone and tend to value the postal system as a means of regular communication more than others.

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Comment from Clive: We need more transparency about the pros and cons of technologies

clive-gilbertResearch tells us that most assistive technology equipment is abandoned, often within the first year. Products frequently fail to match consumer expectations for effectiveness, durability, comfort and ease of use.

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