The costs of vision assistive technology can be extremely high. This is a fact that should not be ignored. When mobile phones were initially launched to the market, not everyone could afford them. The main reason for the high costs was an imbalance in supply versus demand. Manufacturers did not have the capacity to keep up with the skyrocketing demand. This can happen when something is rare on the market; tighter supply and growing demand lead to high prices. Eventually, production met demand, and the economy of scale began to work in the consumer’s favor, until eventually having a mobile phone was as easy and as common as having coffee with a friend.
People with vision loss are paying high costs for using vision assistive equipment.
Unfortunately, People with vision loss are still paying too much for vision assistive equipment. Which is why at Project Ray we have one overriding goal: To make our product available for everyone. Affordable Accessibility for all!
At Project Ray we strive to keep our costs low—just $10 per month. Here in Israel the cost is subsidized by Israeli mobile carriers—who benefit is that the users are moving from basic phone services to a smartphone services and they are able delegate the responsibility of training and support to us, being experts in the field. This cooperation has brought significant benefits for our customers since these low costs made the product more available.
When we were analyzing the problem of too-high costs for vision assistance technology, we realized that the main problem is that the devices for vision assistance are not covered by any medical insurance. In the CNBC video that presents this general issue, Dr. Melissa Chun claims that a discrimination against those with vision loss exists. Lee Huffman , with the American Foundation for the Blind, notes that these devices are not covered by insurance because they are not considered to be medical devices. In the article written by Sintia Radu, this problem is described in detail. According to Huffman, there needs to be a legislative solution that would require the necessary standards for medical devices and appliances.
In the United States alone there are 10 million people with visual impairment. The market is huge. The demand for these devices exists, but it is necessary for these devices to be accepted as needed and helpful tools to enhance the vision-impaired individual’s independence and quality of life. With more devices in play, economy of scale can take place, which will bring down the costs of these devices.
Future costs of vision assistive equipment.
Our view of it is that it will happen as it did with the other innovative products in the past.
- An Audio book player used to cost 150-250$ now is a zero cost app.
- Color identification tools that used to cost $50 or more are now also available as free mobile apps.
- Scanning and reading printed text using OCR use to cost over $1,000 for software and scanners. It can now be done free on a mobile phone.
We are hoping to help solve the problem of the cost of accessibility by establishing cooperations with various mobile carriers who might underwright costs.
When the industry will rely on off-the-shelf, inexpensive, powerful hardware platforms – smartphones, and provide the tools with software solutions, the entire cost structure of the industry will drastically change.