Feb 04: The country has opened its first demonstration centre for communication technology devices aimed particularly at the elderly and disabled people.
The Science and Technology Ministry, which is behind the project, says it hopes the centre will help improve access to technology by the elderly and disabled people.
A home telephone with larger digits and Braille lettering, a device attached to an iPod Touch media player which transforms hand signs into spoken language, and a "headmouse" (a computer mouse operated through head movements) for people unable to use their arms and hands are among items on display.
The devices are on offer for sale or rent at the centre, located at the ministry on Rama VI Road, Phaya Thai.
Science and Technology Minister Virachai Virameteekul told those present at the centre's formal opening yesterday that the technology would give the disabled better access to information and communications devices.
"We are presenting communication technology for people living with disabilities to show them how they can gain the benefit of these devices in everyday life," Mr Virachai said.
The centre is a joint venture between the ministry, the Telecommunications Consumer Protection Institute and National Telecommunications Commission.
Torpong Selanon, president of the Communication Services and Devices Showcase for Persons with Disabilities and the Elderly project, said the centre brought disabled people closer to technology.
Mr Torpong, who was left blind by a road accident more than 20 years ago, said disabled and able-bodied people should have equal access to technology.
He urged the government to pass a regulation proposed by the Information and Communications Technology Ministry that would give the disabled help with communication technology, including providing free communication devices.
Telecommunications Consumer Protection Institute director Prawit Leesatapornwongsa said the government should develop user-friendly technology for the disabled.
The National Statistical Office says the country has about 1.1 million people with disabilities, or about 1.8% of the total population, and about 8 million people over 60 years.