Look at that face … he looks as if he is listening to an intense and absorbing debate don’t you think? He is wondering where this football is – because a dog his size could trash a football in no time at all and thoroughly enjoy himself doing it!
I have done something today that I would never have expected I would do. No I didn’t play football – that is a given that I will never do it and I won’t even be watching it. I have never considered myself a political ‘creature’ and very often I have to keep my personal political views to myself – for example the Community Council is a neutral organisation politically.
What is even more surprising to me is that it was in the context of assistive technology. Don’t get me wrong I am quite frequently engaged in discussions about assistive technology that verge on political and I am always prepared to own my opinion or shut my trap. However, over the past few weeks there has been an emerging story about one of the so called Pathfinder sites in the UK Governments 3 Million Lives (3ML) campaign. Now on the off chance that you are totally without clue as to what that is about I will summarise; following the world’s largest randomised control trial of telehealth (monitoring vital signs for those with long term conditions such as COPD) the UK Government announced that in partnership with industry it was starting 3ML to campaign to save 3 million more lives in the UK by the use of assistive technology (predominantly telehealth). To achieve this the Government apparently had no money but industry partners would help with that bit and there were to be two stages – the first that by the end of 2013 100,000 additional people would have telehealth through the creation of 7 pathfinder sites.
Historically where there have been attempts to scale up this technology deployment two or three big companies have won the tenders – with much commentary about the fact they virtually wrote the tenders for the public sector. These large companies are not necessarily the best at assistive technology, they are rarely innovative and they are not good at interoperability with other peoples AT equipment (think the Microsoft of the AT world)!
So last week I made several comments on the tendering that has just been announced and that appears to be following the same path as the last few high profile tenders where the vast majority of the equipment purchased has not been used and is sitting gathering dust. The taxpayer is forking out for equipment that benefits noone; this is wrong and it is a gross miscalculation on the part of a public sector who are over reliant on the big industry players. What is more in this latest case the local authority uses some very derogatory terminology for older people “Affluent Greys” and “Prudent Pensioners”.
The tender document is very reliant on documentation provided by 3ML and today I came across a photograph of the four 3ML staff with the caption “Lovely Ladies”. Another topic that had been posted for us to read up on was that the Indian Government are planning to develop a special piece of technology to protect people who are the victims of sexual crimes. There are many gadgets already available which could be put into service today – it seems to me that this delay is similar to the politics on AT here in the UK. Culturally India values women as chattels passed from father to husband; the Indian Government is elected by those men and so they do not wish to alienate their voters … developing technology will allow them to seem to be concerned about the issue but not actually do anything. Here in the UK many people never bother to vote in elections because they think that their one little vote won’t make a difference; this is our culture and as a consequence we get the politics we deserve.
I drew a parallel between an all female team in a professional organisation being referred to as Lovely Ladies in this day and age to the cultural values in India towards women and until we all stop playing political football and deliver the same values of courtesy, consideration and care to every human being, whether male or female, old or young, with disabilities or not, with money or not … we are failing at providing supports to allow people to live safe and independent lives. The women of India don’t need a gadget to protect them – they need a cultural and political environment where they are equal. The citizens of the UK do not need the same tired old pieces of equipment sitting on shelves gathering dust, they need smaller, simpler, mobile equipment that is easy for them to use.
Sorry Dog no actual football for you to burst …
No walking today after two longish walks the previous days. I started a fun design challenge online – which is now talking off. The thread has had more views and response than any of our discussions in a very long time and it is so great to feel the vibrancy and vitality again.
Those are just mine but n a few days I will do a full post with the brief and some of the other contributions.
Apart from that I took some pictures: