Australians with disabilities pay too much for IT

Tuesday, 17 July 2012 09:39am

The Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN) has published a report outlining how Australians pay too much for technology and that people with disability are being hit hardest.

ACCAN’s submission to the Inquiry into IT Pricing, which is being conducted by the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure and Communications, investigated how much Australians pay for software and hardware compared to the rest of the world. In particular, assistive technology costs more here than elsewhere in the world, yet Australians with disability are more likely to be under financial pressure.

Submission author Erin Turner said, “Companies are asking people with disability to pay more for essential equipment – these products allow people to communicate with friends and family or access basic government services online. The extra amount people with disability in Australia have to pay for this IT equipment makes living on tight budgets even more difficult.”

ACCAN compared the price of assistive technology sold by Humanware in Australia, Canada, the UK, the USA and New Zealand. Price differences were startling. For instance, the BrailleNote Apex BT 32 Braille Notetaker costs $AU6242 in the USA and $AU8750 when bought in Australia.

ACCAN attributes much of this price difference to the size of the assistive technology market in Australia compared to that of larger countries. One solution proposed by Turner is for the government to adopt a public procurement policy for IT equipment. This would mean that the government purchases technology in bulk, increasing market competition and, ultimately, lowering prices for consumers. Turner says that similar programs have been successfully implemented in other countries, including the USA.

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