moderated Re: Need Microsoft Disability phone number!

Leedy Diane Bomar

There are many reasons why this is the most imaginable offensive question.
It is asked by almost every help desk to which I have spoken.
Sometimes, it is said as: "is there someone there that can help?"
Which means "someone with sight" which implies that a blind person is not a ":"someone". Also, if I had this invisible friend, caretaker, babysitter, etc. wouldn't I have already thought to ask for their help? Why do sighted people assume that, we as people who cannot see, have a sighted person at our beckon call. Who pays for this helper?

Most of the time it is the fault of the company that a sighted assistant may be needed because their developers did not consider the needs of non-visual access. I believe in making this their problem, not mine! How will they ever learn that it is not a blindness issue, but a product development/design issue, if they always have a "sighted person" to solve the problem. That is NOT independence or encouraging full inclusion through accessibility.

I am always snarky in my response to this question, try to be humorous, and explain why it is the most insulting offensive question ever! I often tell them that my guide dog can see the screen, but she cannot speak. I am sick and tired of the assumption, especially at help desks, and particularly at accessibility help desks for the person I am calling for assistance wants/expects me to have a sighted person readily available! 
The problem is the lack of accessibility, not the fact that I cannot see the screen. There are so many options in design that light dependence no longer needs to be the only way to access information. I am not less of a person, less worthy of respect or assistance, because my eyes don't work. It is the developer's job to include non-visual access in their products, and I believe that we all need to let them know that.

Many times I may have a blind friend visiting, and the tech help desk person hears the person say something, and immediately asks if that person can get on the phone. I explain that this other person is also totally blind, and immediately they are discounted as that "someone who can help." This question, by far, is the most insulting offensive question, and the most often asked.Why that question is offensive! 

 Diane Bomar

On Mar 5, 2021, at 16:24, Brian Vogel <britechguy@...> wrote:

On Fri, Mar 5, 2021 at 02:30 PM, Marianne Denning wrote:
I was working with someone who worked for another blindness company and the person asked me if I had a sighted person who could help.
I want someone to explain why this question is offensive.

When you're at a help desk, any help desk, the goal is generally to get a fix as quickly as possible.  There are times where having a sighted assistant can greatly speed things along.  There are times when there really is no substitute for sight when it comes to getting maximum speed and minimum fuss identifying what's happening.  Joseph Lee once said to me, in regard to web browsing, that the sighted (which would include me) see a webpage (but this would apply to anything displaying on a screen) as a gestalt, taking it all in at once, and filtering out the irrelevant versus relevant visually without even realizing you're doing so.  A screen reader user goes element by element through unfamiliar territory and cannot "take it all in at once."  Those are simple facts.

If you don't have access to a sighted assistant, then the answer to that query is, "No, I don't have easy access to a sighted assistant."

Asking whether such is available is not meant, not should it be taken, as a slight to someone who's blind.  I cannot imagine that most in the readership here have not, on multiple occasions, had someone who could see around who could "instantly" identify something you've been struggling with for hours such that you want to scream and rend your garments.  Examples of this completely unrelated to the computer abound, too.  My "value added" most of the time is that I can see something that's, sadly, either not accessible or not accessible quickly and easily and could take a screen reader user hours to find because of how a given program/screen is structured.

If your job is to try to fix an issue as quickly as possible you use all the tools at your disposal, and as a help desk tech there are times where a sighted assistant is a really handy tool to have.  If not available, you try another way, but in many instances it will invariably take much longer.  But if you don't ask whether an optional tool, in this case a sighted assistant, might be available you're not doing your job, or at least not doing it well.  

Brian - Windows 10 Pro, 64-Bit, Version 20H2, Build 19042  

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.

           ~ André Gide

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