Disabled and elderly excluded by new technology

Charities claim many disabled and older people are still excluded from the information society, and have drawn up an 'e-Inclusion' charter to address the problem

Charities are calling upon businesses, the IT industry and government to make technologies such as PCs, mobile phones and televisions more easily accessible and affordable for disabled people and the elderly.

The Royal National Institute for the Deaf (RNID) and the Disabled Living Foundation (DLF) claim many disabled and older people are still excluded from the "information society", and have drawn up an "e-Inclusion" charter to try and address the problem.

The charities want IT companies to design technology that will be more affordable and usable for the disabled and elderly.

Local and national government bodies also have a duty to ensure services are fully accessible and, where necessary, provide subsidies for specialised access technologies, according to the charter.

Guido Gybels, director of new technologies at the RNID, said technology has often hindered rather than helped full participation in society for many elderly, deaf, blind and disabled people by not being designed with their needs in mind.

He said in a statement: "Currently people are still being excluded and their needs are not being met. New technology has great potential to overcome barriers in education, the workplace and social life for disabled and older people."

The charter is backed by IT industry body the Alliance for Digital Inclusion, whose members include AOL, BT, Cisco, Intel, Microsoft and T-Mobile.