Report suggests assistive technologies are not enough to address the needs of older people with dual sensory impairment
Assistive technologies may play an important role in providing equal access to services for persons with disabilities. However, according to the “Keeping in Touch with Technology?” report – published in March 2016 by the University of Sheffield and the Oxford Institute of Ageing Population- several factors must be taken into consideration in order to meet the needs of a rising number of older persons with dual sensory impairment in UK.
The study was commissioned in 2014 by Sense, the national charity for deafblind people. Its main purpose is to address the needs of a growing aged UK population with hearing and vision disabilities. Some of the main findings highlight that although digital technologies may potentially support the target audience in their everyday lives, some barriers that stop this from happening are:
- Lack of accessible devices designed for their specific needs
- Limited knowledge and low awareness of technology
- Overall costs and product diversity
- Lack of guidance for using the equipment
- Limited choice of products available from local authorities
- Risk and safety concerns
According to the report, some of the main uses for these technologies were to alert the users about events such as smoke alarms or natural disasters, to enhance their hearing abilities and to increase their vision. Some of them had access to especial ICT equipment including for example GPS devices to navigate through their neighborhoods.
Based on the former findings, it is possible to mention that promoting equal adoption of ICTs among an ageing population with disabilities, requires collaboration between the government and service suppliers. The design of specialized devices should be considered as a priority as well as the provision of digital literacy skills to increase the adoption of these solutions.
Access full Keeping in Touch with Technology? Report