asked the Secretary of State for Social Services if he will make a statement on the use of new technological developments to assist the blind.
Developments in new technology can be of great assistance to visually handicapped people. Examples are the use of synthetic speech in a range of equipment such as telephone switchboards, word processors, calculators and many household articles; the opportunity offered by microelectronics for translating print into Braille or speech, and Braille into print; the developments of "paperless Braille"; and the application of closed-circuit television as a reading aid for visually impaired people. We gave encouragement to the applications of new technology for the benefit of disabled people—including those with visual handicap—through the information technology awareness programme sponsored by the Department of Trade and Industry. About £5 to £6 million went towards projects to assist disabled people.