The disability tech industry is currently on the rise, and is predicted to be worth an impressive $26 billion in only the next few years (2024). Alongside this rise, many European entrepreneurs are noticing what an increasingly lucrative market disability tech is becoming, thereby creating an influx of tech startups focused to cater to the disabled consumer.
However, whilst it could be presumed that this growing industry could only be beneficial to the disabled consumer, the prices for the assistive products developed by these startups are creating much controversy within the disabled community. Many consumers have commented on how these assistive products, whilst incredibly beneficial, are simply too expensive.
Recent figures reveal that 80 million people living in the EU have a disability, this figure only expected to increase as the years go one. Whilst this means that the increase in technology made to assist the disabled can only be a good thing which will have an increasing demand, businesses within the industry have been criticised over the pricings for these products.
Studies have shown that in 2013, a concerning 30% of disabled people living in the EU were deemed to have been at risk of going into poverty. This figure is unsurprising when taking into account the fact that only 47% of the EU’s disabled population are employed and earn a regular income. With these figures, it’s unsurprising to see how the hefty prices placed on assistive tech can be problematic for both the consumer and therefore the business.
Utilising Cutting Edge Assistive Technology
Whilst it could be said that there is a disparity between the prices of these latest assistive tech products and the average income of a disabled person in the EU, unfortunately there is only so much that this can be helped. These new products for the disabled will typically have cutting-edge technology to help maximise its benefits to the disabled consumer, however, using such technology typically comes at a price.
The pricing of these new tech products for those with disabilities can therefore only be adjusted so far. Whilst this is a problematic, yet popular, issue that is rife within the disabled tech industry, there are some startups that are affordable for the majority of disabled consumers, and actively try to be so.
The European tech startup Be My Eyes was launched in 2015, and has since been helping the visually impaired to better navigate the world around them. The app connects volunteers to those who are visually impaired, claiming to help those with sight disabilities to “lead a more independent life by giving […] access to a network of sighted volunteers and company representatives”.
Be My Eyes is completely free for its users, and instead receives funding from companies that are involved with the visual assistive online platform. Founder of this impressive assistive tech company Hans Jørgen Wiberg has commented that “It’s my hope that by helping each other as an online community, Be My Eyes will make a big difference in the everyday lives of blind people all over the world.” Since the company’s launch, 2 million volunteers have signed up as visual assistants.