Through various assocations, the general public, and from our customers, IMG has been made increasingly aware of the need to make computer usage more accessible to individuals with all kinds of disabilities. The general category for software and hardware when used in conjunction with high-technology & computer access is "Assistive Technology", i.e. technology that aids or assists individuals in the usage of the system & its application software. In specific cases, only in conjunction with specialized software and/or hardware can an individual operate a Personal Computer (PC) effectively.
There are many companies and individuals that specialize in the field of Assistive Technology. These include some or all of the following: firms that specialize in evaluating an individuals needs; therapists that work with individuals to build skills and train with individuals to make them more capable; organizations that provide equipment (both hardware and software) that incorporate various pieces of specialized AT; companies that develop equipment and software for individuals with special needs; companies that resell and/or distribute products for this market; and the list goes on. Because of the specialized nature of these products and the corresponding low volume of sales, prices for quality products need to remain high, so that the companies and individuals providing these products and services can continue to do so.
IMG initially became involved with the Assistive Technology because of the capabilities of its software. The "Virtual Interfaces" and the general approach to human-machine interface gives IMG a powerful tool in providing specialized software. In response to customer requests and an education from individuals involved in the field, IMG was willing to customize its software and build various front-ends to the technology developed for IMG's commercial products. In doing so, IMG made the decision to not price these low-volume products any different than similar software available to commercial and industrial customers. This decision was not a business decision, but based on ethical and human standards.
The management did not feel it proper to raise the price for those individuals who had the greatest need for the software, even though business & market dynamics suggest otherwise. Because of this decision, the response from individuals ranges from praise and heartfelt thanks, to wariness of the quality of the products and the company. Regardless, IMG does not have to rely on the field of Assistive Technology to be profitable. As already mentioned, the small volume of products sold to these individuals is orders of magnitude below IMG's core business in providing its technology to large corporations, institutions, and other organizations, who demand low prices in relation to the high-volume of products (licenses) sold.
Because of the "word of mouth" and wider exposure within the field of Assistive Technology, IMG continues to allocate resources to the development of specialized features. The crossover effect of this "Research and Development" (R & D) effort is to bring some of these features to its commercial software, resulting in a "win-win" situation: Individuals with special needs continue to have a resource for high-quality, low-cost software; and our commercial customers have a wider selection of features available for their needs.
The only negative aspect to IMG's situation is the simple fact that IMG is not an Assistive Technology company - there are no employees formally trained in the AT field, so we rely on associates and organizations to answer questions and address the needs of these special customers. IMG is a high-technology software publisher with people who care and are willing to give to the international community. Refer to our Assistive Technology Page for other web links.
Everyone at IMG is proud and grateful that its software can provide these capabilities to individuals with special needs, and we continue to move forward with advances in this field.