Monday’s Musings 9: Accessible technoligy: Why must it cost extra?

Hey guys,
Steve here.

When a sited person gets a computer, they automatically get to use it. There’s no extra software or hardware required for them, just a screen, and they are ready to go. It works the same for programs–every program can work well for sited users, but is that true for the blind?
For us blind people, we need extra software to operate our computers. Unfortunately, quite a bit of that software costs money. For example: did you know that for windows, NVDA is the only free screen reader? I believe that has changed in windows 8, with Microsoft’s narrator becoming a lot more usable. But that’s not my point–things such as Jaws, and window eyes, two screen readers on the market, cost anywhere from $800 to $1300. Sounds like a lot, huh?
I am thankful that I have NVDA, and I guess that settles the expensive screen readers issue, however I wouldn’t be writing this post if screen readers were the only expensive thing out there for blind users. Let’s take braille displays and braille notes (a type of computer meant for blind users) for example. A Braille display, or small device that prints whatever is written on screen into braille so a blind user can read it, costs upwards of $3000! And the screen of a computer comes built in? No one pays extra for that… now do they? And look at the braille note! That costs I think like $5000 or something! Why so much? Why must blind people pay to have technology life easier for them?
I’m not done. This Skype client that I use, the main thing that got me musing about this topic, proves my point exactly. So you know how Skype is free? Well this blind friendly Skype client is free to use, but gives you ads every 30 minutes, which I must say are very obtrusive and annoying. How can you stop the ads? by purchasing and using the screen reader, window eyes, which was made by that same company. How ridiculous is that?
With all that being said, I know how hard these people work to make things easier and more accessible for us blind folks… but why must it cost so much money for us users to purchase that software and hardware? my motto is “Blindness is not a disability, but a characteristic, and it should be treated that way.” So if a sited person gets a screen for their computer or other devices, and a program that is easy to use for them at no extra cost, Then for goodness sake, shouldn’t a blind person get the same thing, and at no extra cost?

Thanks for reading,
type you later,