In about a year or so, all televisions in the USA that currently use ‘rabbit ears’ won’t be able to receive broadcasts unless you add a ‘converter box’. Something about going from analog to digital transmissions to ‘save the airwaves’. So since I don’t have cable and do want to be able to look at some TV shows, I went to a TV store to see what my options are.

Well, I can tell you that selecting a TV has become so complex you almost need an engineering degree to understand the various benefits and attributes. I left the store with a dazed look and told the clerk that I’d come back with a teenager who could speak his language.

So I was very interested in a recently released paper by the Australian Human Rights & Equal Opportunity Commission on the difficulties and frustrations of the elderly and persons with disabilities in dealing with everyday things, such as consumer electronics and appliances. The author of the report calls them the ‘Overlooked Consumers’.

According to the report, “we have seen accessible ATMs, the ability for people who are blind to cast a secret and independent ballot, access to the internet and computers, and in many cases, access to the advances in mobile phone devices. But when it comes to washing clothes, cooking, changing the channel on a VCR, adjusting the temperature of house heating or cooling, setting the alarm on a clock radio or reheating a meal, access and options have regressed profoundly for people who are blind and people with dexterity issues, and indeed a wide range of people with diverse disabilities, permanent or temporary.”

It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one who is technology-challenged. Perhaps we should start a new movement, something like “Overlooked Consumers Unite!”

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