The “blurring” of assistive technology and inclusive design into mainstream technology is helping to provide both high-end and everyday devices that can benefit visually impaired people around the home, claims a new guide publication.
Talking microwaves, smart watches, audio thermometers, e-readers and online banking apps are just some of the innovations featured in ‘Assistive and Inclusive Home Technology: A guide for people with sight loss’. The free guide has just been published by UK sight loss charity Thomas Pocklington Trust, and covers a wide range of devices that can improve independent living. Assistive technology funding information and tips for product designers are also featured.
Subject areas covered include: household chores; home shopping and finance; health, fitness and wellbeing; reading and writing; entertainment and leisure. The guide provides an introduction to the many useful technologies available for visually impaired people in these areas, as well as explaining the difficulties and pitfalls with existing devices.
One of these difficulties is the increasing use of digital and touch-screen displays on household appliances, such as boilers, which can be difficult or impossible to control for someone with a visual impairment. The guide notes that: “Modern appliances can be an accessibility rollercoaster, with many ovens, microwaves, dishwashers, washers and dryers being hard to operate by people with sight loss.”
However, many useful exceptions are explained, such as a combined washing machine and dryer that uses audio description to tell users about different washing cycles.
Both everyday devices and hi-spec technologies can benefit people around the home, the guide says – in home security, for example: “Some recent technology trends threaten to undermine home access and security for visually impaired people, with concerns that touch-screen-reliant systems could make front doors inaccessible. On the other hand, biometric security technology can improve accessibility, with fingerprint locking mechanisms making it unnecessary for people to have to fiddle around finding the right key and guiding it into the keyhole. Lower-tech solutions such as keys with in-built torches and basic intercom systems can also assist people.”
A series of real-life case studies are also highlighted in the guide, with accounts of visually impaired people using assistive and inclusive technology to help with everyday tasks, like reading books, cooking, mowing the lawn, and blogging.
Also included in the guide are hints and tips on getting to grips with technology, a checklist for finding the right device, funding options for purchasing assistive technology, and a selection of other resources.
The guide is available at the following link, in accessible PDF format: eab.li/1z .
Read more about Thomas Pocklington Trust at the charity’s website: www.pocklington-trust.org.uk .