Losing my sight, and how technology helped me

23/09/2016

Introduction

Our article this week is written by one of our screen reader analysts, who shares his experiences about how he adapted to living as a blind person, and what role technology played in his life moving forward.


When I was born I was just like any other happy and healthy baby, well at least that’s what it seemed. After six months my Nan noticed that I wasn’t reacting as other babies would, I wouldn’t follow her with my eyes and didn’t appear to be seeing toys and other items as I should. After much investigation it was discovered that I had a rare condition that meant that my optic nerves had not grown as they should, and at the time I was the only person in Britain to have this condition. Even as I sit here writing this I can’t remember what the condition is called as it’s so complex.


In effect my condition left me with no sight in the right eye and only 15 percent in the left, this sounds minimal but as a child I made full use of this sight. I was able to see a significant distance (at least to me) and most importantly I could read standard print books. To me this was a gift as it meant that I could read the same books as my friends, although for very small print this could lead to eye strain. I can still remember the soreness of my left eye when reading ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’ in only three days, which was a total of 766 pages. This meant that as a child growing up in the 90s I didn’t really notice technology and its impact. I had my books, TV, and later on the PlayStation. I had enough sight to handwrite and that was just fine for me. The closest thing that came to technology for me was the number games on the computer in primary school, and what later turned out to be an invaluable skill as an adult, the ability to touch type, an essential skill for any child sighted or otherwise in my opinion.


Therefore it was a total shock to me as a 13 year old when my retina detached in my left eye. Overnight my sight that I’d known and taken for granted had been halved, which took away the normal print books, some of the PlayStation games and the longer distance of sight I had. I now needed to use the white long cane and adapt far more than I could at the time understand, and unfortunately at this time my stubborn nature reared its head.


It was suggested to me that I should carry a laptop computer to every lesson with me, which had a copy of Supernova installed. For those who haven’t met Super Nova, it is a magnification and screen reader package that allows those with limited vision to both see and hear what is on the screen. You might think that I’d jump at the chance to use this technology, but this wasn’t the case. To me as a teenager this laptop with its talking magnification software set me apart from my friends and made me stand out, and by the time I had set the computer up and opened a word document the lesson was already five minutes old and my friends were already ahead of me. Further to this was the fact that my emotions wouldn’t allow me to give in, because I wanted to be the same as my friends and do what they did. I still wanted to be able to handwrite, and carry on as I had before. I simply couldn’t accept that my sight was diminished, and that I needed to adapt to my new situation.


It didn’t help me at the time that my teachers wanted the best for me, and so forced me to use the laptop. I can see now that they were right and that technology was the way forward, but at the time I couldn’t accept this and so fought against this. I refused point blank to use the laptop, hindsight is a wonderful thing and I can now see that I should have used it. My emotions were running high, and it was a huge change in my life that nobody had seen coming least of all me. In time my teachers accepted my stubbornness and left me alone, and as they intended I began to see the advantages of technology. I improved with touch typing and began to use the shortcut keys that today are so familiar and vital to my life, both personally and professionally. Of course I still used the computer with some degree of sight, which meant that when my site went entirely I had to largely re-train.


Technology moves quickly meaning that a blind or visually impaired user needs not only to understand how the technology works, but needs to learn the changes quickly before they change again. Big updates such as Windows 7 to Windows 8 can be highly challenging to users, because of their extreme differences both in looks and shortcuts which is often overlooked by their creators. I learned Microsoft’s version of PowerPoint and Excel with sight, however have not yet been able to use them as a blind person as I find it hard to visualize what is on the screen. Once such packages are familiar to me, I personally find it reasonably simple to learn the changes but this I believe is not true for all users, particularly those who lose their sight later in life.


At the age of 15 my sight deteriorated further, before eventually going entirely at the age of 18. I had undergone several operations to attempt to save the sight, but eventually the scar tissue from these operations grew over the eye meaning I could no longer see. This was hard to take at first, because in my own mind it was only some scarring that blocked the sight from coming back. Also at this time the surgeon performing the final operation had given me a very positive spin on things, meaning that I went into that final operation with an unreasonable belief in success. After six months when the sight hadn’t returned, I was dropped from the patient list and left to fend for myself. I don’t blame the surgeon for not being able to retrieve my sight, as this was an almost impossible task. However the positivity of his attitude had given me false optimism, and was one of the causes which led directly I believe to what happened next. Having said that, I am hugely thankful to the surgeon for prolonging the sight for as long as he did.


I suffered a severe bout of depression, being unable to leave my bed or see any goodness in life. I couldn’t read, play on the PlayStation or any other of the fun things I had previously done. Leaving the house was a challenge now, as I lived in the countryside and had understandably relied on my remaining sight so much in the past. Even simple things like watching the TV had been taken for granted. As a huge sports fan I could no longer follow the cricket or football on TV, and couldn’t follow the games on the radio if the commentaries were there at all! In short to me life was over. I could no longer see the computer, and so had to re-train all over again.


I hadn’t been able to see my mobile phone for a year or more, and so felt cut off completely as I couldn’t text or e-mail for myself. IPhones were not yet in my sphere of understanding so I had no independence or privacy, and it felt like anything I had known so far was gone. I was lucky because I had the love and support of my fiancé later to become my wife. She showed me that life wasn’t over and encouraged me to live life again, just in a different way. She showed me that I could still have a social life, and that I could adapt. I got a Nokia phone with the Talks screen reading software on it, which meant that I could phone and text who I needed to which was great. I gradually learned to adapt, both to the technology and to life in general. Whether this was cooking without sight, or following the sport I got there gradually.


I began to use the Jaws screen reading software, which I still use today when not using other technologies for the Digital Accessibility Centre. JAWS again was a life changer, as it gave me the independence of the internet and all that comes with it. I had previously taken this for granted and learned not to do so again. As I improved I found tasks easier, and so made it through college and to university. I was lucky enough to move in with my fiancé, now my wife and we had our daughter who is now nearly four. Everything was going well until my phone and laptop broke about the same time, my phone was now obsolete and I was still unaware of the built in Voice Over screen reader on the iPhone. I felt increasingly isolated as the technology I could find to help me was expensive and out of my price range, and as I later discovered wouldn’t have worked anyway as the technology was out of date.


This was a hard period for me, as again I couldn’t accept my sight loss and I was angry with the world. Later I would come to realize how lucky I was, having both my wife and daughter and that I was still luckier than some. Audiobooks on CD were expensive if available at all, which was one of my main hobbies. I was again without a phone that I could use reliably, and my computer kept breaking which nearly cost me my degree! Eventually after talking to friends I was able to see what I did have, my family. I’ve finally accepted my sight loss. I now understand that despite my lack of sight, I’m very lucky and can still do most things just in a different way.


Thanks to my colleagues at the Digital Accessibility Centre I discovered the iPhone, which to me was a life changing piece of technology. It goes with me everywhere, and allows me to do the things that sighted people take for granted. I am now able to have audiobooks on my phone at a very low price, as well as being able to follow news and sport at the click of a button. I can phone, text, and e-mail without having to open up a laptop which isn’t always convenient. It can’t be understated what a difference this has made to my life, whether it’s ordering my daughter’s birthday present from Amazon, or watching a TV series on Netflix, my life has completely changed. I’ve grown as a person just by using this one piece of technology. Working with the Digital Accessibility Centre has broadened my horizons, and allowed me to view technology in a different light.


Speaking personally I can say that it is not always obvious what technology is out there. When my second phone had broken I found it hard to either find information about screen reading software, or funding to buy the technology. As I’ve already stated my iPhone goes with me everywhere. This is fantastic when websites or Aps are accessible, but sadly this is not always the case. I am still prevented from accessing large sectors of the internet, in particular retail websites and bookmaker’s websites. This can be annoying when for example you are attempting to buy a surprise bottle of perfume for your wife’s birthday, or to place a bet on a horse! There are sometimes work arounds that I can access as an experienced user of such technologies, but this isn’t always the case meaning that there are still some things off limits to me.


I’ve learned not to be angry with my sight but I do still become frustrated with something I can’t do, because it’s not accessible when it is within the power of people to make them accessible. I’ve been lucky enough to do some amazing things in my life so far, and I’m no longer that stubborn teenager that won’t listen to people. I’m lucky enough to have my wife and daughter, and now also have a son. He came quite suddenly one Sunday evening, and I had to deliver him myself at home without any help from medical professionals until the emergency was over. Looking back this experience was utterly terrifying, but at the time I wasn’t thinking like that. Technology has changed me as a person, as it’s helping me to develop in ways I could have never imagined. I use technology to shop for both of my kids, and to buy that surprise Daddy present that I otherwise couldn’t go to the shop for, well at least not without help in the past. Playing kids tunes on Spotify or children’s programmes on Netflix, allow me to have fun with the kids when we’re not out and about in our local park, or playing with toys on the floor.


I’ve often been asked by people what I’d give to have my sight back, and once upon a time the answer would have been almost anything. For me that statement is no longer true. If it meant losing my two kids or my wife, or pretty much anything else then I’d likely say no. For me I’d love my sight back but that’s not a reality currently, as my condition is so rare that it’s a long way off before there could be a cure. Yes sometimes there is a wistful smile and regret that I can’t see those photos with the kids in them, or to see what the kids look like but being upset all the time doesn’t help either. On mornings where the lack of sight can be frustrating I just have to play with my little boy, or walk my daughter to play school, with her as proud as punch to be with her Daddy to realize just how lucky I am. My view now is that sight isn’t everything. Yes the advancement of technology has helped this view, but for me personally I’m the luckiest guy in the world as the things I do have are so precious to me that nothing else matters.

What's it like to be a blind parent: part 3

16/09/2016 Written by Carly Malone and posted by Mike Taylor

Introduction


In our final series of posts about being a blind parent, Carly Malone gives us an overview of her experiences as a blind mum.


The world of parenting with a sight impairment is a challenging but fun one. I generally think it is a case of doing the same things as everyone else, but finding different methods of doing them. Audio-based toys make it easier to find out what my child is up to, and I can interact easier using this method of play.


Measuring Milk

When I have measured formula milk I use the scoop from the tin, and make up several small tubs with one scoop per ounce. For example when making a seven ounce feed, I put seven level scoops of the powdered milk in to a small tub. I keep six of these measured up so that when it is time to make a feed up, the powder is already pre-measured. I also find the ‘Tommy Tippy perfect prep formula maker’ a life saver. This works by:
1 Placing the empty bottle under the nozzle of the machine.
2 Pressing the large round button which is situated at the top of the machine, this releases a small amount of boiling water in to the bottle.
3 Removing the bottle and adding the pre-measured powder in to the bottle. Fasten the top on to the bottle and give it a gentle shake.
4 Remove the lid of the bottle and place it back under the nozzle of the machine.
5 Press the large round button again which is situated at the top of the machine. This releases some water to make up the feed to the selected measurement.
6 Remove the bottle from under the machine, place the lid back on the bottle and give the bottle another gentle shake. The bottle is now ready for the baby to drink.


Measuring medications

I have found a couple of things useful here; the first one being neurophen sachets which contain five mils of the medicine. These are more useful when the baby is older than six months. Other methods I have used include 2.5 mil and 5 mil syringes which have been used to measure the medicine. At present I use medicine spoons which contain a 2.5 mil measurement at one end, and a 5 mil measurement at the other end. In order to make sure that I don’t give more than 5 mil doses, I find it easier to give two 2.5 mil spoonful’s of medicine.


Weaning and feeding

When I started the weaning process I began with the method of spoon feeding. I find it useful to place a small amount of the food on the spoon, and place my index finger alongside the bowl of the spoon which allows me to feel for the baby’s mouth. I also find it useful to have different shape bowls for different courses, such as square bowls for savoury foods and round bowls for desserts; this is particularly useful for freezing foods. When pureeing foods I tend to place the foods in a jug, and then use a small stick blender to puree the food. When using the baby led method or giving foods which can be eaten by hand, I prefer to hold the bowl and give one piece of food at a time. I find this is an easier way of monitoring where the food goes, and whether the baby has eaten the food or not.


Accessing support

I started an application to access further support from social services, however with all the recent changes in social services departments, I currently look on gaining support in this way as a daunting task. However, I have found local playgroups particularly supportive. I am also a member of the ‘Blind Mums connect’ forum on Facebook, and have gained a lot of useful knowledge from other members of this forum and fellow friends of mine who are in a similar situation to myself. Additional things I have found useful are apps such as Tap Tap See, which is a camera which can be used by people with blindness and low vision to take a picture of an object. The app uses the camera to take a picture, and the Voiceover screen reader can convey a description of the image; I find this particularly useful when identifying clothing. I also find Voiceover useful on my iPhone, as I can use this to browse the internet and find out information on the type of things which are useful and age appropriate for my child.


While walking out and about I use a sling, this allows me to confidently get around while making sure that my child is safe. When reading I can use clear vision books which are print and braille, meaning that I am able to read the story while showing my little one the pictures. When it comes to monitoring temperature I use a talking thermometer, which speaks the temperature so that I can ensure all is well.


Resources

The Blind Mums Connect Website (external link.) The Clear Vision Website (external link.)

What's it like to be a blind parent: part 2

Written by Mike Taylor 09/09/2016

Introduction

Welcome to our second series of blog posts about what it is like to be a blind parent. In this post I give an overview of the past 3 years of being a dad, and some circumstances which my wife and I have experienced.


When my wife was pregnant we had a series of meetings with her midwife, who introduced us to social services who were very positive, and put our fears at rest. It is still the case that some professionals believe that blind people cannot be good parents. I know this from speaking to other blind parents who have told us of their experiences, and we were initially getting ready for a fight about what we can do, and what we may or may not need support with. Thankfully we couldn’t have been more wrong, our midwife and social services representative were focused on helping us to be the best we could be, and being as independent as we could while having the option to ask for support if we needed it. Like many parents we ask questions of the health visitor sometimes, and we have had nothing but great support and advice when it’s required. I can honestly say that we have needed limited support, and mainly rely on our family network which is at a minimum rather than a maximum.


Being a blind dad is a mix of emotions ranging from frightening, exciting and rewarding; I have learned so many things, and I learn something new every day. My wife and I are both classed as blind, however this doesn’t stop us from doing our best for our little girl. At the time of writing she is 3-years-old, but in the early months I did the bottle washing, and much of the formula preparation during the night, as my wife was primary carer during the day. Nappies were one of the duties we shared, while bath time became my job, and we still share the bed time stories. Like my colleagues I can adapt many stories and even make up my own some times, but my memory of the ‘3 little pigs’, and ‘goldilocks and the 3 bares’ have come in useful as these are her favourites.


Audio-based toys really help, as I can fully interact with what she is playing with at that particular time, at the moment we are doing a lot of drawing though which is interesting yet really enjoyable, as I am asked to draw all sorts of animals. This is fun as it requires my interpretation of what the shape of a dog would look like on paper, leading to much laughter from my daughter, I don’t mind though as it’s time with her that is priceless. I remember the layout of our house so when it comes to daddy playing a horse, and my little one sitting on my back as I crawl around the house, I know which areas are safe enough should she decide to climb off and then swiftly move on to hide and seek. Now that she is learning the alphabet we have some print letters which have a braille label attached, this helps us to get her familiar with the few letters she is still getting to grips with, which isn’t many as she is doing great at nursery and school.


My daughter knows that mum and dad’s eyes don’t work properly, but of course she won’t attach any name to it right now, this will come, and at the moment she is amazingly perceptive. If she wants to show me something she will take my hand and show me the item, and while walking she now even tells me if there is a car on the pavement. I should add here that my daughter is not a small version of a carer, my wife and I want her to be the best she can be, inevitably there will be things she wants to help us with though; and sometimes I have had a tantrum on my hands when I wanted to do something myself so it’s all a matter of getting the balance right.


When administering medicine we found that using a teaspoon for very small measurements is ideal, and the 5 ML syringe is another option. We make a tactile mark where the half-way point is if administering a 2.5 dosage, so we know exactly the amount to give if required. To keep track of times in between doses I use my iPhone to set reminders, actually the reminder app has never been used so much since I became a dad.


When it comes to dressing, we make sure that all clothes are already colour co-ordinated so that we don’t dress our daughter in colours which clash. When my wife and I shop for clothes or shoes ETC, we always take a sighted relative so we can get items which match her wardrobe until she is old enough to do it herself. Because we have been told the colours of her clothes from recent purchases, we can tell a member of staff what we need if doing this ourselves.


Before I became a dad, I was unsure how to respond to the question of having my sight back if I could. At the time of writing my eye condition cannot be cured, and I have been blind since birth as my blindness is a result of being born 3 months early. I would need to learn to read and write all over again if I had sight, as I would need to recognise print as well as other things and I would require support while this happens. In all honesty I would have thought this to be more of a hindrance than a help. Since being a dad though I would love to see my daughter, I would go through the process of training and some kind of rehabilitation if the support was offered, and in the event that my eyes could be repaired. Although this isn’t possible at the moment, I get the interaction in other ways. My little girl loves to show me her dress and shoes when she is off to school, and there will of course be a time when she won’t want to do this, so the memories again are something to keep hold of as much as possible. I do have some pictures on my iPhone so that I can keep them with me, although I sometimes record the odd nursery rhyme so I have some audio memories as well.


When we are out and about I have to say that the response is mixed. While the majority of people are great and treat us like parents, some have been very hurtful in their comments. Questions like ‘Why are you parents’? Or ‘Shouldn’t you have someone with you’? to statements like ‘well at least she will look after you’ are simply strange to put it politely. In general though I think the majority of people are genuinely interested, which is why I would encourage people to ask questions as assumptions are equally not nice to deal with, and learning through talking is the best option. I am happy to answer any question, I think that some questions which wouldn’t be asked of a sighted parent though such as ‘how did you become parents’ is one for the ‘simply strange’ category I mentioned above. The opposite to all this is when 1 person said ‘I think your both brilliant, she is happy and you can clearly see that’. While it is not necessary for people to say we are brilliant, let’s face it all compliments are gratefully received so I will be more than happy with the positive and ignore the negative. I will remember this person and the lovely comment she made for the rest of my life, and as long as my daughter is happy and healthy, that really is all that matters.

What is it like to be a blind parent?

02/09/2016 Edited by Mike Taylor

Introduction

What is it like to be a blind parent? Over the next couple of weeks 2 of my colleagues and I will give our experiences of how we do the same job that every parent does, and how we adapt to the job in our individual ways. Our first post comes from a father of 2.


My experiences of being a father of 2

In truth being a blind parent is no more hectic in my opinion than being a sighted parent, you just have to adapt and find work arounds. These become so commonplace that you tend not to notice until they are pointed out, and my kids are just as happy and cheeky as any other parent’s. My little girl askes for a puzzle, and when I can’t find the right one I just lift her up to pick her own. It really does work and with the great family network we do have for the odd bit of support, such as family trips where a car is required we have lots of fun. Interacting with the kids in relation to my sight has given me some of the funniest moments I can remember, for example when asking my nearly four year old “Is the baby in here?” I received the answer “No”, only to find that he was sitting right behind her after searching most of the house growing increasingly frantic! Saying that my daughter usually is fantastic with the fact that I cannot see, and really puffs out her chest when Daddy takes her to school.


Luckily for me my wife has some sight although is visually impaired, this can make some things difficult for us with the kids in particular as neither of us drive. On the whole we do cope really well with some adaptations for my part. Generally I tend not to use any assistive technology on a day to day basis, this is largely because my wife is able to do such things as bottles and other measuring tasks, while Daddy gets the fun of nappy changing for the baby and dishes. Feeding time is fun for obvious reasons if Daddy can’t see the baby’s mouth. Daddy has to feel for it while trying to hold the bowl, and get food on the spoon while the baby moves. Although messy it’s really fun and I have found that the older the child gets, the easier it tends to become.


Although I do not use any technology for food or bath time, I do use my iPhone or iPad to do a range of activities with the kids. I have found Spotify incredibly useful to play music both of the soothing and kids variety, not to mention the children’s stories that occur on this platform. I also use Audible on my phone to enable the kids to cuddle up with Daddy for a classic story such as the Tiger that came to tea, although for bedtime I tend to find that I tell the stories myself. I am lucky enough to have a good memory and can adapt many fairy tales to the purpose of the occasion, meaning that my little girl is used to having Daddy tell a story without any book to look at, although on nights where Mummy takes her up there’s always a picture book of some kind to read. Otherwise no technology is used that all parents of young children have not encountered, namely the television!


In terms of the support generally available this is trickier to define. I would not say that the support is not out there, but the people who give the support do not always understand disability and subsequently treat the parents differently and as unfit to look after their child. This is of course not true for all professionals in this sector, but on more than one occasion we have discovered that we have been treated differently from other people that do not have a sight impairment. For example during my wife’s first pregnancy our midwife insisted on repeatedly offering support without listening to our answers of what a great family network we had, before proceeding to send us to every consultant she could reach even though there was no medical need.


There was so much red tape surrounding that pregnancy that my wife was scarred for a long time, and did not believe that she could be a Good parent when of course she was. When we discovered we were expecting our second child, I had to go to significant lengths to avoid the same midwife because there was the constant fear that we would be pressured into support we did not at the time require. I do not believe that this was through malice but due to a significant lack of knowledge surrounding visual impairment. I am not trying to say that support should not be offered as in many cases it is needed and is often welcome, but the person with the impairment does need to be listened to and the support does need to be given on a case by case basis according to the persons needs generally in all walks of life. It was clear in the case of me and my wife that the midwife had a pre-conceived opinion of what disabled people would be able to achieve as parents, and carried on that opinion regardless of any evidence to the contrary, causing both harm and a prejudice towards any form of support which could be dangerous for some people who really do need it. I’m not saying support should not be offered, in fact I’d be worried if it wasn’t; it just shouldn’t be forced on people.


In terms of society there are a thousand anecdotes I could tell that would amuse those hearing the stories, but what I’ve found is to expect the unexpected and to never stereotype anyone in society. I’ve had people stare at me in shock and ask “Is she yours?” This is perhaps the most shocking as it is clear they really don’t think you could have children, let alone should have them. When I walk my daughter to school, there’s the other end of the scale. In a small community everyone knows us and it’s surprising how many people will both greet and help in the mornings, and although often not required it’s always nice to know that people are looking out for you. I’ve found that in general people shy away from myself and my wife as parents, I think this is because they are afraid and it’s something they don’t often encounter. Like working in the world of assistive technology, the world of blind and visually impaired parenting isn’t on the radar of most members of the public, so when it is encountered it is often scary.


Many people can get over this barrier and are absolutely fantastic, but sadly many people avoid me and especially my wife once they learn that she has a sight impairment. This is a shame and can often leave you feeling isolated, although for me as long as my kids are happy and healthy I don’t mind this too much. I’m happy as I am, my kids have grown up with my lack of sight, and are adapting really well to the point where my daughter asks why the man with glasses doesn’t have a cane if he can’t see very well!

Being constructive about accessibility.

12/08/2016 Written by Mike Taylor Senior Accessibility Analyst DAC.)

Introduction

As a user of assistive technology I often experience, and know people who experience some accessibility problems when using a website or app at least once a week.

Often, like many users, I feel frustrated by various access-related problems and usually just switch to a different website or app. Although my position in the field of accessibility means that I am able to clearly explain any issues to an organisation and hopefully move towards resolving any difficulties in the future, it can sometimes be difficult to approach an organisation when describing a problem and sometimes, I have just been so annoyed that I haven’t been bothered to make the first contact at all.

The problem with this approach of course is that if no one tells the developer that something isn’t working, nothing will get resolved, because the very people who should know, simply don’t know or may not understand the problem in order to provide a solution.

Following is a guide giving an example of what a company would benefit from when explaining an access-related problem and how both user and company can hopefully come to a resolution.


Try to relax

Sorry if I come over as patronising but if I send an email just explaining that a website doesn’t work with my assistive technology, or get frustrated with a customer service agent because their development team haven’t got an alternative method of reading an inaccessible document, they haven’t got much to go on in order to help me. If I give myself time to get over my initial frustration and come back to the problem later, I can think more clearly. Even if I write down my difficulty I can come back and maybe edit it in to a well-constructed email or points to consider if I need to call the company involved.


Explaining the problem

To identify and work towards a solution, I need to tell the company what I was trying to do, what I couldn’t do, and what document, app (including the screen title or tab which was being viewed) or web page I was viewing when the problem occurred.

If possible it would help further if I could tell the company what web browser (including the version) I was using, the operating system, and assistive technology I am using (again including the software version.) If I am using a mobile device, the type of phone and operating system, together with the assistive technology used would help the company to get the information to their developers.

Even if only some of the information provided is possible, such as what assistive technology I use, it’s better than no information at all, and most large organisations will be able to tell you what they need and where to find it when asking for browser or device information.


What next?

It isn’t always easy to keep track of such things during our busy lives, although it might be worth keeping a note of your contact, or keeping the email conversation if conducted via an online contact form. Hopefully a company will get back to you and in my example I think of when writing this, they apologised for the inconvenience and thanked me for the information.

If however the experience is different it would be an option to contact the company again in a month to ask for an update, and hopefully this will move things in a positive direction. What if it doesn’t resolve anything?

If you believe you have tried and explained as much as you can, now maybe is the correct time to inform a company that if something is inaccessible it means that you are not able to use their particular service.

Informing them that under the Equal Opportunities Act 2010 there is now a legal requirement for users to be supported by a reasonable adjustment, or in this case an alternative option if not possible.

I would usually look for an email address on their accessibility page if they have one, or alternatively a customer services or help email address to send any queries through to.


The end result

When I have approached a company in the past, I have to say the majority of organisations have been positive and tried to implement a fix, even if it has taken some time. This is of course another important factor, things don’t get resolved overnight, it takes time for the developers while they try to identify and resolve the problem.

Digital Accessibility Centre has a solution tailored to address this issue. AccessIn is an accessibility maintenance tool which the user can report issues with sites as soon as they come across them. If you are reading this and you work for an organisation who would benefit from the AccessIn service, you can find out more about AccessIn by selecting this link (link is external.)


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