Another Good Grief event this week. Actually it started last wek… or even earlier
backm Backm BAAAAAAACK
A while ago I lost my old size-of-a-brick pay-as-you-go cheap-n-nasty mobile and was about to go to foreign parts for a few days. “I need a phone” thought I and “I may as well get a good one that is accessible”. So I did a bit of research and found that while there was a mobile specifically designed for ‘the blind’ (owlasys or something like that), it was pretty crap.
To get a decent accessible mobile, you need one of two possible pieces of software (MobileSpeak or TALKS) installed on one of a limted range of phones.
With future-proofing in mind, I splashed out on a Nokia N70 which is a pretty sophisticated multimedia phone that I knew would run either software package.
I tried asking RNIB for advice but as usual, unless they are actually selling you something, they were little help. I do see RNIB as one of these far too large, self-perpetuating charities that has lost touch with the people it is intended to serve and is still operating on a midel that was appropriate several decades ago…. but don’t get me going.
Anyway, afer seeking (much better) advice on a mailing list or two, I downloaded the TALKS software 30 day demo and after figuring out how to install it from my PC with the provided cables and software, I was up and running. Pretty good too. It even had a screen magnifier which I am a bit past being able to use but a nice feature that I would have appreciated a few years ago.
There was a bonus pack which I did not explore but that seems to have some nice toys such as a GPS thing that works on your location in relation to network transmitters.
That might be quite useful to me when travelling on rail and even bus as they don’ always anniunce stops and you can set alerts when you reach certain places (apparently).
Of course the 30 days license ran out after… 30 days and then the phone would only speak for a couple of minutes before going mute…. or rather repeating “License has expired” every time I touched a key. Cery depressing as it would go iff in my pocket as I walked about. I basically had to keep switching it on and off to keep using it. Fair enough.
With my future employment being in grave doubt, I did not buy the full license until now – two months later.
So last week I rang up a supplier and this is where the story really begins….
First of all I had to work out my credit card details under my CCTV. Of course the numbers are reflective and on a picture background so the CCTV does not cope well with it. I finally worked it out and gave the number to the guy who is also blind… One of us, probably me, screwed up and the number was not right so a couple of days before he gets back to say sp and this time we get it right.
Next I have to get the phone’s ID. This means typing in a code #06 which I recorded as #96 so another day before the emails resolve it. I type in the right code but because the screen does not wrap properly in the magnifier, I don’t see two of the digits. The phone speaks them correctly but for some reason my brain cannot capture that particular sequesnce and it takes a good 20mins to get the right number. I get the number to him and wait.
End of week one.
On Tuesday this week, I finally get an email with the activation ‘ticket’, a lengthy number.
I follow the procedure but because I have never used texting, did not realise I have to switch modes from letters to numbers. Or rather, I do realise but have no idea how. Another email but while that is getting there and back I figure it out and type in the ticket.
The phone does its thing and then goes silent….... not a good sign.
Under the CCTV, I see that the Speach is set to ‘None’ which I cannot alter.
It seems that when Installed the demo, I picked the RealSpeak voice engine and not the Elequence engine which the supplier just assumed I had done. I think most blind users are so used to the Elequence voice that he assumed I had opted for it. The license ticket was for Elequence so TALKS now doesn’t… making all further steps that much more difficult as I have to work under the CCTV.
The easiest thing, he says, is to install the Elequence engine.
Fine. After a bit of a search I find it and dowload it to my PC.
Then I realise that my phone to PC cable is in Wales…..
Another email – can I just have the RealSpeak License instead?
As I wirte this, I am still sitting here woth a phone that won’t speak to me.
What I am getting to, I guess, is that something that should have taken ten minutes for most people to sort out, took me two weeks so far and this is my life.
That is mostly, to me, what disabilities do – they eat up your life. Sure you can eventually do most things but, even with more assistive technology than you can shake a laser pointer at, virtually everything takes that much longer and is that nuch more frustrating. and tiring
The upside is that you develop a lot of patience (or go mad).
The same applies to students with disabilities. Just because they gfet through a task tells you nothing about how hard a journey it was and what it took out of them. I was walking in this morning with my white cane and reflecting that it was just as difficult to walk into walk as it once (when my eyesight was better) was for me to climb a mountain.
This is not to promote the ‘heroic disabled person’ image just to recognise that we should not underestimate the extra time and energy required to study (and just live!) as a disabled student.
The new Disability Equality Scheme will come onto force in December and has a long list of proposee actions. It has not been passed by committee yet so I won;t say what those actions will be but I have hopes that this will do what the DDA and SENDA failed to do – make Unoversotoes take disability seriously and consider disabled people as people.