Fred’s Head from APH, a Blindness Blog

Fred’s Head, offered by the American Printing House for the Blind, contains tips, techniques, tutorials, in-depth articles, and resources for and by blind or visually impaired people. Our blog is named after the legendary Fred Gissoni, renowned for answering a seemingly infinite variety of questions on every aspect of blindness.

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Friday, November 09, 2012

What Happens When Technological Environments Change?

By Donna J. Jodhan

Whenever change occurs, there is always something that is bound to go wrong for the first while but when this pertains to the environment for a blind person, it is even more challenging.  In the case of the workplace, this often leads to high levels of frustration for everyone involved.  Especially so for the blind employee. 

Think of it like this.  One morning, the blind employee comes into work and is told that their system is going to be upgraded and as a result, it would mean that their access technology and computer hardware will also have to be upgraded in order that they can work with the system wide upgrade. 

The blind employee knows only too well what is going to come next.  As soon as the system wide upgrade is completed, certain challenges will need to be overcome.  They are not looking forward to this occurrence because they know only too well that for the next few weeks at least, their production and frustration levels are going to rise appreciably. 

They seek to gently remind their superiors of this but the latter reassures them that all will be well and that their fears are probably not going to be realized.  However, the blind employee knows better and all that they can do is to wait for the shoe to drop so to speak.  It turns out that more often than not, the blind employee’s fears are realized.  Here is what happens.

  • The version of the software that the blind employee has been using up until the system wide upgrade no longer functions adequately to allow them to be productive.  
  • The new hardware that has been installed is unable to work properly with the existing access technology software.  
  • The blind employee is unable to navigate new screens in a meaningful way. 
  • Certain parts of the system are now inaccessible. 
  • The blind employee is unable to obtain adequate documentation in order to be able to learn the new features of the system wide upgrade.  
  • Sighted employees are also frustrated because they are unable to help their blind coworkers. 
  • The blind employee is told by access technology vendors that they will not be able to obtain upgrades for their access technology to be able to work with the system wide upgrades in their workplace.

Other challenges abound.

These are all variables for all involved to be aware of whenever technological environments are about to be changed.  If these variables are kept in mind, then much can be done to minimize the frustration levels on all sides.  Chances are that not all of the challenges would be able to be dealt with; the challenge of the unavailability of upgrades to enable access technology to work with new system wide upgrades is just one example. 

I'm Donna J. Jodhan your freelance writer and reporter wishing you a terrific day.
If you'd like to learn more about me, then you can visit some of my blog spots at:

(Donna Jodhan! Advocating accessibility for all) 

(Weekly Saturday postings on issues of accessibility)

(Weekly features on how to increase your success with your business ventures)

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