Access to Equipment and Technology
Blind, deafblind and those with low vision cannot use much of the equipment and technology widely available to perform everyday tasks.
The RNZFB Board believes that:
- Equipment and technology in everyday use needs to enable self-reliance for those who are blind, deafblind or have low vision.
- Equipment and technology should be affordable and in some circumstances be government funded.
People who are blind, deafblind or have low vision should be able to use equipment and technology to perform everyday tasks, but the equipment and technology that is widely available may not be usable by people who have vision loss. Adaptive equipment and technology is essential in compensating for sight loss.
Over the past two decades, there has been a growing trend towards the use of visual interfaces such as onscreen menus and touch screens on a wide range of mainstream equipment and technology. A considerable proportion of this equipment is not accessible to people who cannot see the visual display or locate trigger points on the touch screen.
Touch screen-based queuing systems are becoming widespread in government offices and elsewhere, but, without exception, they are inaccessible to blind people.
In addition, the trend to deliver services via automated computer systems for banking transactions and many other routine tasks online can be an added barrier for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision. This online system works for those people who are able to use online banking but people that do not have access to a computer and/or the internet are charged extra for transactions over the counter or incur significant inconvenience. More consideration needs to be given to these issues as systems and procedures are designed.
What Blind Low Vision NZ Will Do:
- Influence technology design so it is accessible and easy to use.
- Support organisations seeking to increase the availability of affordable, accessible equipment in New Zealand.
- Raise awareness among New Zealand exporters about designing for everyone and how to make goods and services “born accessible” to maximise international market potential.
- Partner with international bodies to promote the commercial benefits to mainstream equipment and technology manufacturers of designing for everyone.
- Increase public awareness of how making equipment and technology accessible for people who are blind, deafblind or have low vision benefits everyone.
- Continue to investigate options to provide a wider range of useful equipment and technology solutions and provide training in their use.
What Blind Low Vision NZ Wants Government to Do:
- Specify accessibility in procurement of equipment and technology used for public purposes. Accessibility is defined as the “extent to which products, systems, services, environments and facilities can be used by people from a population with the widest range of characteristics and capabilities to achieve a specified goal in a specified context of use.”
- Ensure that all government sourced funding for assessment and training services and equipment keeps pace with demand and makes independent living as important as personal safety when assessing funding applications.
- Ensure there is consistency of funding criteria for technology applied by government and government-funded agencies.
- Make information about government funding of disability related equipment easy to find and transparent.