Steadily Embracing Assistive Tech Worldwide
We’ve recently discussed the latest improvements and inventions in the world of assistive technology. This post is an update on what’s been going on nationally globally in the past month.
Although there were no major breakthroughs recently in terms of new devices or technologies coming to the market the related studies and events held worldwide indicate that we’re steadily embracing the need and the marketing opportunities for assistive technologies.
Assistive tech market is growing nationally
The “Disabled and Elderly Assistive Technologies” report released by Research and Markets on May 26, 2016, gave an overview of the current markets and trends for disabled and elderly assistive technologies, including voice synthesizers, Braille readers, and wireless monitoring devices.
According to the report:
“The U.S. market for assistive technologies is projected to grow from $40.6 billion (including eyeglasses and contact lenses) in 2014 to $43.1 billion in 2015 and $58.3 billion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.2% between 2015 and 2020…
The assistive technologies market for vision and reading aids is projected to grow at a CAGR of 6.0% from 2015 to 2020, to reach $25.7 billion by 2015 and $34.4 billion by 2020, from nearly $24.3 billion in 2014.”
IWF: Assistive tech is not a “niche vertical”
During its annual World Cornerstone Conference in Tel Aviv in May, the International Women’s Forum discussed the future of assistive tech, in connection to policy in Israel, China and the U.S. in particular. The participants noted that the rest of the world would like the U.S. to ratify the 2006 UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Former President Bush signed the treaty in 2006, then President Obama signed it again in 2009, but the Senate is yet to approve it.
The panelists also discussed how assistive tech “shouldn’t be treated as a niche vertical” and highlighted the “benefits of greater investment,” writes Gedalyah Reback for Geektime, as well as “the importance of developing new technologies focused on the impaired that will eventually find their way into general-use technologies.”
“Assistive technology is a breakthrough conduit for the general population,” writes Reback, commenting on the argument how some investors “miss how easily transferable such tech is to the general population.”
Reback also quotes Frances West, IBM’s Chief Accessibility Officer, who noted:
“You’ll see the application of assistive technology is broadly based. It’s a business initiative, rather than confined to non-profit or charitable categories of corporate interest. […]
If you build accessibility thinking into your design, then you make your technology that much better. CXOs and investors need to see tech developed for the disabled as an avenue for more efficient machines for everybody.”
The main takeaway from the discussion of assistive tech at the conference could be summarized by this quote from Devora Mason, Voiceitt’s director of business development and operations (the company’s voice-recognition app called Talkitt is in beta testing):
“Smartphones are still luxuries for most people, but their technology is essential for the disabled. Assistive technology is not really a niche market. This technology can be put to use for more general applications.”
WHO improves global access to assistive products
Last week, it was announced that Pakistan was selected by World Health Organization (WHO) to draft a resolution, with input from the fellow WHO members, on assistive products. The country was selected primarily because it has launched an Assistive Products List (APL) initiative for persons with disabilities at the recent World Health Assembly.
If the resolution is passed it will be become the first stage of the implementation of the Global Cooperation on Assistive Technology (GATE), in an effort to make the products on the APL list easily accessible and affordable (covered by insurance or free).
Assistive Tech Fair and waived deadline for Windows 10 upgrade
Nationally, a couple of things that happened last month are worth noting:
The Assistive Technology Fair in Great Falls, Montana, showcased new tech from all over the country, including voice-recognition devices, computers that magnify text, and glasses that can describe a wearer’s surroundings.
Finally, Microsoft announced the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free to those using assistive technologies. Other users will have to pay $119 after July 29.
As Mark Hachman, Senior Editor at PCWorld, notes, the “examples of assistive technologies in Windows 10 include Narrator, a screen-reader app that vocalizes text; Magnifier, a digital magnifying glass for those with poor vision; and Speech Recognition, which allows you to control your PC using your voice alone.”
Image (top) by myvector/123RF Stock Photo.