Fernando Botelho in MAKE magazine challenges us to build a $200 talking computer for blind kids: makezine.com: Let There Be Speech.
We all agree with the goal, but what’s the best way to achieve it? Is this really a technological problem, or is it an organizational and distributional one? Anyone who’s visited one of the assistive technology conferences knows that we’ve got the technological answers to almost all the accessibility problems we face. Where we fail — and we really are failing — is in getting those solutions into the hands of the people they were intended to benefit. Price can be a barrier, but so can lack of awareness or confidence, and poor implementation and support networks.
An alternative approach is not to build any new hardware, but to piggyback on existing hardware and technical support networks that are succeeding at the tough task of massive global adoption. This means “infiltrating” the wireless phone and One Laptop Per Child ecosystems. It means finding all the existing channels for communicating about accessibility solutions, and amplifying our message there. We may be able to do more good per dollar with an accessibility how-to poster in every Internet cafe in the developing world than a technology-driven development project.