moderated Re: Working with people at disability help desk

Marianne Denning

I usually talk to someone in the Philippines when I contact Microsoft customer service. I have not had one who could not speak English well. I don’t think we should talk about anyone’s country because that has nothing to do with the issues of any accessibility help desk. I have had as many problems speaking with someone in the U.S. as I have had in any other country. I believe the quality of training by the company and the level of expectations from the company are key factors in the quality of service we receive.


From: <> On Behalf Of Sieghard Weitzel
Sent: Sunday, March 7, 2021 11:35 AM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


The fact is that these support agents are in their own country, if you don't like the fact that Microsoft outsources their support to countries like India and the Philippines the complain to them.

In any case, very rarely do you get somebody whose English is truly bad, they typically don't get the job if they are not profficient but of course they do often have a bit of an accent, but then again there are places in the US where people have a harder to understand accent than 99% of the support agents from India or the Philippines. And, by the way, if you had your narrow-minded wish and all the foreign workers who work here in Canada and the US were sent home our economies would collapse utterly.


From: <> On Behalf Of Mich Verrier
Sent: Saturday, March 6, 2021 10:52 AM
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


I have a problem when calling these places and get to some one who can hardly speek English and who lives in indiea or some forin place like that to me if you can’t speek English or hardly can then go back to your oan contrey. Also I am worried when working with ms accessibillidey that they are always going to screw something up when they want to fix your pc remotely. From Mich.


From: <> On Behalf Of Marianne Denning
Sent: March 6, 2021 1:40 PMi am always worried when working with ms disibillidey desk that they are going to screw up my pc when they ae wanting to remotely access it. From Mich.
To:I have a problem when I call places and get transferd to some one who hardly knows English sorry but if you don’t know English then get another job or move back to your oan contrey. That is just my thoughts on this also as far as working with the Microsoft disibillidey desk I have had no problums with them in the past how ever I am always worried when they start messing around with y pc that they are going to screw something up. From Mich.
Subject: Re: Working with people at disability help desk


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
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

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