Re: A tiny amount of money( was: re: Slashdot and Newsforge)

From: Douglas W. Jones <jones_at_cs_dot_uiowa_dot_edu>
Date: Sun Mar 12 2006 - 11:09:44 CST

On Mar 12, 2006, at 9:55 AM, Teresa Hommel wrote:
>
> Myself, I tried some accessibility devices and couldn't get them to
> work. The guy next to me in a wheelchair laughed and said, "Yeah but
> if you use them all day, you get good at it." He had no trouble with
> the same devices.

I have heard this before, but I am extraordinarily suspicious of this
argument.

Is assistive technology only for the benefit of the "experienced
handicapped?"

I think not. In the case of assistive devices for the blind,
particularly,
we have to remember that failing eyesight in old age is a common
problem.
If we just design our assistive technology for those who were born
blind or
were blinded in youth, so that they could develop the expertise that we
all
develop in our youth, we would to a horrible disservice to the elderly.

Consider macular degeneration, a problem my father began to develop in
his
70s. I hope it doesn't wreck his vision (right now, the degenrate
spots in
his two eyes don't overlap), but if it does, he'll be a novice user of
assistive technology in his eighties. He might get good at it -- he's
very good with technology, in general, but many eighty-year-olds aren't.

                Doug Jones
                jones@cs.uiowa.edu

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Received on Fri Mar 31 23:17:03 2006

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