[AI] Fw: [SayEverything] Products for the Blind are too Expensive

m.chandrashekar chandru342 at gmail.com
Thu Jun 3 10:59:27 EDT 2010

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Trepan Singh 
To: sayeverything at yahoogroups.co.in ; blindcity at yahoogroups.co.in 
Sent: Wednesday, June 02, 2010 9:19 AM
Subject: [SayEverything] Products for the Blind are too Expensive

Products for the Blind are too Expensive

Most of us who are blind want to live our own lives. Part of that

process is to manage our own homes, take care of ourselves, and do all

that is necessary to be as independent as the sighted. The problem

that we face is twofold. First of all, many of us who want to be

independent have difficulty finding jobs because of our blindness,

meaning that we have to remain on a fixed income. As a result of this

fixed income, many of us can't afford to be as independent as we'd

like to be, because it costs a lot of money to adapt our lives.

If you compare products that sighted people use with those adapted

for a blind person, you will find that, in almost every case, the

blind person's item costs a lot more than a comparable item for the

sighted. You might say, "Well, you have to think of the adaptations."

I look at this issue in terms of what goes into a product. Take your

average calculator, as an example. I'm sure that a lot goes into a

calculator that does scientific 

notation, square roots, exponents, etc., yet a sighted person is able

to buy such a calculator for $5. A talking calculator with fewer

features than the one I just described would cost a blind person $15.

Let's put this into perspective. If you replace software that

generates scientific notation and square roots with software that

talks, are you increasing the total value of the calculator by ten

dollars? It would seem to me that the original software that does all

those calculations would cost more than the software which makes a

calculator talk. Yet the blind have to spend more money on a

calculator which does less than what a sighted person spends on a

calculator that does more.

Then we have the Braille watch. When you make a Braille watch, all

you are really doing is taking the cover off of a regular watch,

putting dots on the dial, inserting a pointer, and replacing the cover

with one that has a hinge so we can open the watch. I can understand

why a Braille watch would cost more than a regular one, but four times


Let's talk about the talking measuring tape. After all, in order for

a blind person to be independent, he may want to measure things in his

apartment like everyone else. A sighted person can go to a local

discount store and buy a measuring tape for two dollars. Well, I

bought a talking measuring tape because I felt it was necessary. It is

slightly larger, and looks like a transistor radio. It talks, and

converts from the American system to the Metric system. I spent a

total of $84 for this device. Now, let's prove the point further by

comparing the talking measuring tape to a sighted person's calculator.

Do you mean to tell me that the software which makes a measuring tape

talk is more complex than the software which makes a sighted person's

calculator do scientific notation and square roots? I sincerely doubt


Allow me to give a more ridiculous example. The average old fashioned

Braille machine has no software in it. It's a mechanical device with

gears inside, similar to those of a regular typewriter. I am assuming

that an old fashioned manual typewriter has more complex machinery

than the average Braille machine, for obvious reasons. If manual

typewriters were still on the market, how much do you think they would

cost? I guess they would be no more than $100. Yet, this relatively

simple Braille machine is currently valued at over seven hundred

dollars. How did someone reach the conclusion that a brailler needs to

be valued this high? What exactly is in that brailler to justify its

cost, especially when you compare it to comparable items for the

sighted with more features?

Last, but certainly not least, allow me to be even more ridiculous

when I talk about computer software. There is a product on the market

called Dragon Naturally Speaking, which types what you say into a

microphone. Dragon Naturally Speaking is common. It is advertised all

the time, and it is used by anyone. Jaws, which is a speech software

that allows a blind person to hear what's on the computer screen, is

similar to Dragon Naturally Speaking, if you think about it. One

program sees what is written, while 

the other program hears what's being said. I am taking an educated

guess that you can buy Dragon for under a hundred dollars, but yet a

blind person has to spend eleven hundred dollars to adapt his computer

with Jaws. I don't think that Jaws is eleven times more complicated

than Dragon, do you?

The problem here is supply and demand, and as a former student of

economics, I fully understand the concept. However, if a company that

sells adaptive products for the blind really thinks about its target

market, it needs to understand that many people in the blind

population can't afford these prices, and perhaps if the companies

lower their prices, they will gain more customers. How do these

companies, as well as agencies who provide services to the blind,

expect the blind to pay these high prices in order to lead independent

lives? If I have to buy new speech software today, but can't afford

it, do I have to go without a computer? In my case, I would have to

shut down my business. Is this fair?

I don't know how we can solve the issue of products for the blind

costing more than those for the sighted, but I am hoping that

companies and agencies realize that it makes life a lot more difficult

for us, especially when most of us are not in the work force. If these

products are more affordable, we can buy them a lot easier and use

them to help us get a job and make more money. Doesn't that help the


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