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January 15, 2009

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RJM

"But why do many of these products remain comparatively expensive even though they have been around for years? The answer is lack of competition."

Nope - that is NOT the correct answer. Nearly every type of assistive technology product has at least one major competitor, and usually many more. The real answer to why prices of AT are higher is because they are sold in low volumes. Companies must pay all their bills from much fewer products sold, and thus the price must be higher.

The way you make it sound, the AT manufacturers are intentionally gouging people with disabilities with high prices simply because they don't have competition. Absolutely not true, and frankly, offensive. Shame on you for perpetuating the myth.

EnableMart & School Health - Special Education

Thanks for commenting. And you are right that it is not appropriate to demonize the manufacturers - my intention is only to begin a dialogue about these products and what is happening in the market. That being said, I think the low volume purchasing goes hand in hand with the lack of competition. I do see many products that are still alone in their niche and lack of high volume in sales equals scarcity of competitors wanting to enter the market. But I don't believe it is that manufacturer's are intentionally gouging customers. Having low competition and low volume sales though, does not encourage innovation or the motivation to look for efficiencies in producing these products. The point of the article that I am referencing and agreeing with is this: we can increase the volume of sales of specialty AT by demanding it as a standard in all of our equipment instead of setting aside very high dollar amounts to purchase one accessible workstation. Doing so will increase the demand, increase competition in the market, and decrease overall cost to the buyer. This will also encourage competition in the market so that new technology will be developed at a more rapid rate and enhancements will be quicker to market. I think if you'll compare the current AT device prices with their non-assistive counterparts when they were new and relatively low volumes, they were probably similar in price. It is only after large scale adoption and increased volume do you actually see pricing decreases. I emphasize nobody is to blame, but there are things we can do to change the situation.

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