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Internet accessibility and americans with disabilities 02

Internet accessibility and americans with disabilities 02



A presentation by Tom Lehman from Minnesota State Commission on Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing to the 2010 Blandin Broadband conference: Cultivating a Culture of Use

A presentation by Tom Lehman from Minnesota State Commission on Deaf, Deafblind and Hard of Hearing to the 2010 Blandin Broadband conference: Cultivating a Culture of Use



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  • If you want to cultivate a culture of use, you have to ensure that it is first accessible to people in your population. Another important component concerning the population of rural residents with disabilities is that number of people with disabilities will continue to increase as the baby boomers continue to age. According to the Chamber of Commerce, over 50% of people over the age of 75 have a disability.
  • Expensive Technology: Examples, screen-access technology for computers $800- $1,000, braille display average cost approximately $3,500 to $15,000. Problem complicated by low employment rate for people with disabilities, in 2007, the employment rate of people with disabilities aged 21 to 64 was about 37 percent, compared to nearly 80 percent for people without disabilities in the same age range.” Also complicated by a wage gap, in 2007, the median annual income of a household with at least one working-age person with a disability was $38,400, while households without a person with a disability earned over $60,000.In addition, some of the assistive technology takes considerable amounts of bandwidth so people with disabilities often require a higher level broadband service and current computers (story of Barry who is deafblind and could not fully participate in the conference because his hardware was not adequate for the program). Often people are unfamiliar with assistive technology so they view computers and the internet as unusable.
  • The Chamber of Commerce paper recommended, to improve broadband adoption:-Need affordable broadband options for users -Educate people with disabilities about how the internet can improve educational and employment options. And provide new options in health care…-Provide trainings to teach people how to use computers and assistive technology-Assist people with disabilities in purchasing computers and other equipment -Encourage provider compliance and government enforcement of accessibility regulations
  • Tools for Life in Georgia:-Mission: “to increase access to assistive technology devices and assistive technology services for Georgians of all ages and disabilities so individuals can live, learn, work, and play independently in communities of their choice.”-Services: Four resourcecenters in the state do “consumer intake, assistive technology scholarships, assistive technology training through hands-on assistive technology demonstrations and educational workshops, Touch the Future Expo, and the Microsoft Life Long Learning Lab.”-Theresource centers have “’hands-on’ learning centers for demonstration, education, and evaluation.” The centers are important becausepeople like to have an opportunity to try equipment/devices before they purchase them. -Provide assistance for new small business owners, including information on developing a business plan, finding business training, and applying for loans to start a business-According to the Chamber of Commerce paper, in 2007 the organization trained over 3000 people on how to use assistive technologyBroadband Changed My LifeIs a nationwide campaign promoted by the Alliance for Public Technology. The campaign “highlights the breadth and scope” of the impact of broadband on individual citizens. Although this is not specific for people with disabilities, it does promote how broadband can improve a person’s quality of life. The winners receive a cash prize and their broadband stories are advertised by the Alliance for Public Technology. A similar campaign could be launched in Minnesota with a focus on the use of broadband by rural Minnesotans.
  • Some assistive technology devices are paid for my government programs. However, the purchase of these devices is determined by their ability to match government definitions. For example, Medicare will pay for assistive technology if the product is “durable medical equipment.” This allows the government to purchase an $8000 alternative augmentative communications (ACC) device, but not a $300 smartphone with $150 text-to-speech software which works more effectively than the ACC device because the smartphone is not considered a medical device. Expanding assistive technology device definitions would free up funding for the government to buy more people with disabilities necessary devices. (Source: Giant Leap reference in word document p.13)