moderated Re: Working with people at disability help desk

David Diamond

The other thing is too, I think there are a lot of techs  who can’t think outside the box. If it’s not written down they’ve got no clue. A while back I talked to a tech because I needed something done, she fixed what needed to be done and I asked her why her co-workers could not do it.  She said sometimes if they don’t know how to do it, they just say, “We don’t do that, or it can’t be done.”  Which gets back to an earlier comment about not even trying. I’m not sure if I buy the reasoning of blaming the company for these people who are incapable of understanding what we want or need. Does the company go to these people’s houses and drag them out of their bed so they can work for the company? Now, I’m being facetious.       


From: <> On Behalf Of Tyler Wood
Sent: March 6, 2021 11:34 PM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk



Chip on my shoulder? I’m not sure if you’re being sarcastic with that or not.

As a blind person/person with a disability, I am simply explaining what I have seen again and again, especially as it relates to the real world.

This goes well above and beyond accessibility. It is a question of how we interact with those around us and how one action by one person in our demographic, as it were, can change how we are viewed by general society. I am a very patient individual who is willing to educate, explain, and generally attempt to verse a person on what would help me accomplish a task, and I like to try and encourage those in similar situations to do likewise. I’m not a fan of yelling and screaming without identifying information on what  would make a product more accessible, make me as a person more or less comfortable, and encourage those around me to treat me as a normal every day person in a way that educates and helps them understand where I am coming from.

I am also willing to view our shortcomings – and that is to say we, as blind individuals, tend to do the exact same thing as those sighted people around us. Thus, we do not understand where *they* are coming from, at times, regardless of their explanations. Someone can try and explain time and time again what colors look like, but I will never understand it, apart from the most general sense.


Thus, if there are lights flashing on a router, and as that is how the tech support is trained to troubleshoot issues, yes, I am more than willing to try and get sighted help. In the real world, agents, and companies, would like to train people in a similar vein so there are no inconsistencies. This isn’t a slight against me. This is simple fact – much as I dislike it. I’m not going to refuse to do something because I need to reach out and ask for help, and that’s what I take issue with. It also very much depends on the support agent in question. I remember calling Netflix a while ago regarding a Talkback issue on Android. I ended up getting transferred right up the chain. By the last call of the evening, I had a gentlemen on the line who was willing to go above and beyond what his training provided. He ran talkback, took the time to ask me questions on how to navigate with it, and we went through the issues I was having together. This was after countless phone calls with support agents who continuously used every day references – click the three dots at the top right, etc etc. As much as we may think it may be their job to know our technology, we must also take into consideration that we need to have a general understanding of the terms they use so we can better help the person on the end of the line help us. That is, also, simple fact, and not a slight against us. It sounds easy now in hindsight, but patience can truly make or break these types of things. Take a few deep breaths, remember that the agent is simply trying their best to help.


Regarding agents from other countries – or who I struggle to understand – this can definitely add some frustration. They may be trying to tell me something and I am not understanding, or vice versa. It is not a slight against them, it is a slight against the company. The company put them in this situation, and thus me, too.

That being said, I’ve had some truly enlightening conversations that resulted in software or firmware fixes with those across the pond, as it were, so I’d also encourage not immediately dismissing them and explaining your issue as best you are able.



From: <> On Behalf Of David Diamond
Sent: Sunday, March 7, 2021 1:02 AM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


Tyler Wood, it almost sounds like you are implying the blind have a chip on their shoulder by your verbiage.  My hard of hearing cousin had an expression which is almost verbatim what you said, “Yell and scream and you will get whatever you want!” I enjoy groups like this because it debunks the idea that I was told years ago by a blind person.  “David, you have to realize that most blind people have no life and all they do is post emails to groups.”   


From: <> On Behalf Of Leedy Diane Bomar
Sent: March 6, 2021 7:30 PM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk



 Diane Bomar

On Mar 6, 2021, at 15:32, Tyler Wood <tcwood12@...> wrote:


My $.02.

Part of my job involves meeting with customers and showing them, via my screen and audio, how my screen reader interacts with various content be it a website, an application, or something in between.

People don’t generally encounter blind or visually impaired individuals. Demanding that someone immediately cater to your needs without attempting to educate that person is worse than the person trying to help using visual landmarks. We are the minority. We must help educate, even if we want an issue fixed right away. You can do a great deal to broaden someone’s understanding of what you’re dealing with by attempting to explain where you are on the screen, what your screen reader is speaking, what you expect to happen and what is actually happening. Demanding that you want to speak to someone who can talk to you in nonvisual lingo isn’t helping anyone, least of all yourself, because that person will not be able to help the next person who comes along and does not get educated about how to go about conducting themselves with someone who can’t see. It’s a missed opportunity on both sides. You’d be surprised what doesn’t cross someone’s mind and they take for granted.

Is it frustrating? You bet it is. It’s also empowering to help someone understand alternate views on certain aspects of life in general, the issues faced with regards to accessibility and the methods in which they can be alleviated. Hint: yelling, screaming and demanding fixes nothing, apart from making companies less apt to work with us.

I think several also forget that, just because you’re calling the disability support line, doesn’t mean your disability is the only one out there. There are tons of others that are equally misrepresented or unaccounted for.


From: <> On Behalf Of E.M. Kirtley
Sent: Saturday, March 6, 2021 4:11 PM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


I think what Mr. Lee was objecting to was the wording about going back to their own country,.  That was uncalled for. Not only that, most of the time the call is made to them in their country.   


Ms. E. Kirtley




From: Shirley Tracy
Sent: Saturday, March 6, 2021 12:02 PM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


I’ll put my 2 cents in just once here. Give them a break. Some people are partially sighted and the people helping don’t know who can see what. And they may ask to determine if you can see at all or if they need to describe differently. Also, I think people in general don’t think. Even my own friends forget I’m totally blind. They’ll tell me something is in the green bin or such and I have to say, “And which one is green?” It’s automatic for them.

I try not to embarrass them and just make a joke of it. But I do speak truth and often we have a good laugh. One time I got angry with a CSR rep on a website and I did say, “What about totally blind don’t you understand?” The woman apologized and I said, “It’s okay. You can still help me if you describe what you’re talking about.”


We do get too sensitive about things. And we need to be more up front with others. I don’t wave my blindness like a flag, but when they need to know, I tell them.


Shirley Tracy


From: Joseph Hudson
Sent: Saturday, March 6, 2021 2:44 PM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


Hi Marianne, I also have to work with a website that is supposed to be a company that works for the blind and visually impaired individuals. However, whenever you speak with their customer service, it's almost like talking to somebody who knows nothing about blind people. Anytime I ask them a question it's like what color was the screen or what color are the lines or do you see a orange box? I'm trying to explain to them that I am blind is like talking to a rock.

> On Mar 6, 2021, at 12:40 PM, Marianne Denning <marianne@...> wrote:


> I am totally 100% understanding when I am working with someone who knows nothing about blind people and how best to help us. I have a problem when someone works with a company who provides goods and services to blind people and asks me if there is a sighted person available. I am the market for these companies and their staff must know how to communicate with me in a nonvisual way. If that person can’t do it because they are new to their job they need to refer me to someone who can work with me.

> From: <> On Behalf Of Brian Vogel

> Sent: Saturday, March 6, 2021 12:40 PM

> To:

> Subject: Re: Need Microsoft Disability phone number!

> On Sat, Mar 6, 2021 at 12:25 PM, David Diamond wrote:

> There has to be a meeting in the middle though.

> -

> Oh, absolutely!   But that meeting in the middle, when you're the "exotic one" in a given situation, very often entails you educating the helper about certain things as they try to help you.


> There was a time when I didn't know diddly-squat about any form of assistive technology.  I learned based on the work I was doing and who I was doing it with.  Had I not needed (or chosen) to do that work with the populations I've worked with I would have absolutely no reason to know anything about it.  Every one of those populations are niche demographics.  The phrase "mainstream support" carries many shadings to the "mainstream" part.  If you are a part of any niche you had better disabuse yourself of the notion of "all things being equal, or even possibly ever being equal" with all possible haste.  And that's not because of malign intent, but because the capitalist system we live under means that businesses exist to make money, and the idea of "spending more than we get back" exists and not wanting to do that is perfectly legitimate.


> But even when I didn't know what I know now, I had occasion to work with a couple of folks who happened to be blind, and was able to assist them with technical problems.  I knew I couldn't use visual terms such as, "click on the red X," but I could use the more generic, "Close the window," or, "Exit the program."   I did, and should have been able to expect, that the exact how that was to be done would be known by the person being assisted.  I no sooner knew ALT+F4 than subatomic physics.


> Most support techs who want to be in the job will go as far as they possibly can if the other side is willing to meet in the middle.  The relationship between a sighted, but AT clueless support tech, and a blind client need not be adversarial.  When they give a visual instruction, which they will particularly before it sinks in that they can't, saying something like, "What is it that you're hoping will happen?," or, "What is it that you want me to accomplish?," will often get a response back that allows you to instantly know what you must do.


> There will always be idiots out there, and I'm not trying to defend them.  But it is every bit as much up to the blind client dealing with someone who does not know AT, and who is not remoted in to their machine so they can see what is going on (which, for obvious reasons, is how we with sight generally work), to help the person trying to help them when it comes to the AT side of things.  It also helps to understand that many of the signt-centric instructions are part of a script.  Far too many companies put the inexperienced on help lines and adamantly insist that they stick with the script, and when they don't know what they're doing, they have to.  It's the people who've been doing this for a while, and like doing it, who often relish being able to "step outside the box" when the opportunity presents itself.  Others, of course, will not, and if it quickly gets ugly then that's when the, "I wish to be put through to your supervisor," step gets taken, as many times as necessary and as many levels as necessary, to lodge a legitimate complaint.

> --

> 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










When speech output was relatively new, I worked as a systems analyst at a local utility company. The VP of that department, I suspect hired me just for the excuse of buying a talking IBM terminal. I was expected to be prepared, without notice, to make it read the pledge of allegiance to anyone he brought to my office. They did not like it as much if I turned off the screen.



We must educate society, and insist on full inclusion. What really gets to me is the seeming assumption that I have to have a sighted person readily available, and that if that is the case I would not have already asked for their assistance if eyes would solve the problem. I need to know how to solve issues, by myself, for future problems of that nature.



Amazon Kindle tech support should know, for instance, how one turns speech output on/off. Two years ago, they insisted that I had to have "sighted assistance" which, of course, is untrue. I went round and round with them for over an hour before figuring it out for myself.

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