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Affordable Access

Man with cane using a smartphone.

Common Scenarios and Product Choices

Different disability groups often favour different products based on the benefits that they offer. We’ve categorised four groups to help you make a considered choice.

Seniors

The seniors with disabilities who participated in our research indicated that they enjoy keeping in touch with family, particularly their children and grandchildren. A Windows-based desktop computer is the most familiar, enabling them to email and receive photos, and use Skype for video chats.

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Many seniors told us they don’t tend to use online services such as shopping, preferring instead to go to the shops and actively participate in community events. Many also indicated that they like the convenience of a tablet for a few things, but still prefer a desktop computer for most things. Windows-based computers also ensure compatibility with recommended third-party specialist assistive technology products.

On this basis, a Windows tablet may provide the best of both worlds. It can be used as a desktop computer at home and a tablet on the go. A budget Windows desktop’ may be sufficient to just use as an affordable desktop PC for the basics such as email, Skype and a bit of web browsing. Seniors with a vision impairment or hearing impairment may also benefit from a Chromecast device enabling them to watch videos on a larger screen with captioned video playback support

Many seniors also told us they are often encouraged to use more expensive products such as an Apple iPhone or iPad. However, for seniors on a budget, it may be worth trying an Android-based smartphone or tablet paired with the BIG launcher app.

As featured in the What’s accessible section, the BIG launcher simplifies the smartphone or tablet interface by changing the interface into six large touchscreen buttons that can be customised to make the device easier to use. Common pre-sets include phone, messages, camera, pictures, an SOS button and a button to access other apps.

See the other sections within this website for more information on each specific product. A checklist is also provided outlining what questions you should ask when considering different products.

Students

Research for this project has shown that most students are generally on a tight budget. They told us that they are always on the lookout for affordability and mobility to help stay connected on the go. Social media is a high priority in addition to having devices that can help with study.

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Students with disability who provided feedback to this project said they often need multiple devices, one for their studies and one for their communication. A Windows tablet would provide an effective solution for the schoolwork side of things due to its obvious compatibility with Windows software.

For communication, an Android-based smartphone can potentially provide an accessible environment to use social media apps on the go, communicate with friends and synchronise with key features on the Windows tablet. Students are also more likely to manually update their Android devices as noted in the What’s possible section to get the maximum accessibility out of their device and keep it as up-to-date as possible.

Students may also require special software or apps for their studies and while the Windows device is likely to provide compatibility across a broad range of assistive technologies, some students have indicated that they are often encouraged to purchase more expensive products such as an Apple iPad to use specific apps either related to their disability or their studies. In this scenario, it is worth exploring if the relevant app is available in the Google Play Store for Android as it is common for apps to be released on both iOS for iPad and Android.

Additional guidance on buying products can be found in the other sections of this website. The checklist may also help you determine which devices are most suitable for you.

At work

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Employees, managers and self-employed people also indicated that they need several devices. If those in the workforce are on a budget, many told us they look for a Windows-based computer for work and an Android-based smartphone.
However, this group tends to be less interested in social media, and more interested in the ability to use technologies after work. As a result, they may find the Chromecast, Apple TV or Raspberry Pi with Kodi to be particularly beneficial in streaming accessible videos to a large-screen television for relaxation.

People with a high degree of technical skills gave us feedback indicating that all of the products mentioned in this resource are likely to be beneficial to them and worth considering depending on individual needs. What’s more, if you are in the workforce, the checklist provided in this resource may prove useful to you in determining the best products to buy.

Parents, carers and children

Parents and carers responsible for people with disabilities such as children have indicated that cheap Android-based tablets are a great support in terms of education and entertainment.

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With a wide range of accessible games and entertainment options at a sub-$100 price point, an Android tablet represents great value for money. When paired with a Chromecast and the ability to stream children’s television shows from sources such as ABC iview and YouTube, a cheap Android tablet provides an affordable and accessible entertainment hub for the whole family.

Parents with children also indicated that many apps previously only available for the iPad are now available on Android. Many new apps have a dual release on both platforms, which means that the cheaper Android tablet has similar educational value to the more expensive tablets.

Carers of adults with disabilities may find all the products discussed in this resource of use depending on specific needs.

The checklist can provide additional information on how best to select an affordable Android tablet.