Tuesday Night Tips: Give Tech A Chance.

I love browsing reviews of the latest and greatest techie stuff in the blindness community. Apps, hardware, software, low-tech gadgets-it all fascinates me. Occasionally, I’ll save up and buy something to improve accessibility.

Like you, I get excited when the money’s there or the authorization from the VR powers-that-be give the go-ahead for acquiring the item. I let the hype’s wave rush sweep me up and, to be honest, sometimes let me down just as fast. That’s because my expectations rise with the advertisements’ promises. They get dashed or diminished sometimes when a bug or glitch interferes with learning the ropes.

Now that I’ve had the Seeing AI app on my phone, the hype has dissipated a bit and I’ve had to step back in order to learn how best to hold my iPhone when reading a recipe or identifying the color on my shirt. It takes practice and a lot of patience. Contrast that to the wave I’m still riding after purchasing the ReVision Fitness App. Being a calisthenics nerd, I’m always ducking in and out of the classrooms and virtual studios designed to give me the best workout .

The key with technology is to give it a chance. The learning curve for us who are blind or low-vision may be steeper since we can’t readily see the layout of a screen or distinguish the sidebar icons at first glance. If learning new software takes perusing the chapters of a manual, that process will take some time along with traversing the menus, commands, and gestures involved in making that new gismo work.

Sometimes the hyped up promos build our anticipation for how easy a new braille display or notetaker may be to use. Then we hit the tech lists or gather in our user groups and tell others how easy or totally difficult the learning curve may be. That puts added pressure on those of us who may be less tech savvy. If a product doesn’t work for us at first touch or trial, it’s tempting to throw up our hands, and tell others how it doesn’t meet our needs after all.

Perhaps, some of you remember the debates over which screen reader was best: JAWS or Windoweyes prior to the latter being bought out by Freedom Scientific. We who were loyal to one brand swore that our choice was the better product. And I’ll admit that switching over to JAWS for work was tougher than I’d hoped. I was as Windoweyes loyal as one could be and let myself be swayed into listening to only those articles and presenters that shined the best light on Windoweyes…until I stumbled upon the downloadable, free 40-minute mode for JAWS. At the time, I was considering the possibility of attending a program for being an assistive technology instructor. So learning Jaws was a must.

What happened? As I gave JAWS a chance, it grew on me. The more I gave myself time to learn its uniqueness, the more I did the tasks on it that I’d done with Windoweyes, so when I had to switch permanently, the transition went smoother than I thought it would.

The same goes today for comparing JAWS software and the NVDA free screen reader. Both have their loyalists. The same goes for the iPhone versus Android. We ask ourselves whether Voice Over or Talks or some other speech application serves us best. Do we really have to choose? Each app, software or hardware device has its strengths and weaknesses. Believe me, we will find them and let the world know.

When we give tech a chance among ourselves, we will bridge the acceptance gap much easier when blind and sighted talk adaptations. What most people in the mainstream want to know is whether a program or app can improve our livelihood. Some folks want to see that improvement happen overnight while others are more patient, realizing that whatever assistive technology we get will take time to learn.

Giving a new device, app or program a chance is like the bonding process with a new guide dog. The learning curve will take a little while. Bonding with a dog takes six months to a year. The user and dog make mistakes just like we who learn to navigate a new techie adaptation make mistakes when learning its capabilities.

Yes, new gadgets get hyped with the promise of working “right out of the box. Developers advertise their apps as “instantaneously” making life better.

Thank goodness for those who offer that free two week trial period or  that downloadable free forty minute mode. We can give technology a chance when learning the contours that will benefit us in the long run.

The key with technology is to give it a chance. The learning curve for us who are blind or low-vision may be steeper since we can’t readily see the layout of a screen or distinguish the sidebar icons at first glance. If learning new software takes perusing the chapters of a manual, that process will take some time along with traversing the menus, commands, and gestures involved in making that new gismo work.

Sometimes the hyped up promos build our anticipation for how easy a new braille display or notetaker may be to use. Then we hit the tech lists or gather in our user groups and tell others how easy or totally difficult the learning curve may be. That puts added pressure on those of us who may be less tech savvy. If a product doesn’t work for us at first touch or trial, it’s tempting to throw up our hands, and talk about how it doesn’t meet our needs after all.

Perhaps, some of you remember the debates over which screen reader was best: JAWS or Windoweyes prior to the latter being bought out by Freedom Scientific. We who were loyal to one brand swore that our choice was the better product. And I’ll admit that switching over to JAWS for work was tougher than I’d hoped. I was as Windoweyes loayl as one could be and let myself be swayed into listening to only those articles and presenters that shined the best light on Windoweyes…until I stumbled upon the downloadable, free 40-minute mode for JAWS. At the time, I was considering the possibility of attending a program for being an assistive technology instructor. So learning Jaws was a must.

What happened? As I gave JAWS a chance, it grew on me. The more I gave myself time to learn its uniqueness, the more I did the tasks on it that I’d done with Windoweyes, so when I had to switch permanently, the transition went smoother than I thought it would.

The same goes today for comparing JAWS software and the NVDA free screen reader. Both have their loyalists. The same goes for the iPhone versus Android. We ask ourselves whether Voice Over or Talks or some other speech application serves us best. Do we really have to choose? Each app, software or hardware device has its strengths and weaknesses. Believe me, we will find them and let the world know.

When we give tech a chance among ourselves, we will find bridging the acceptance gap much easier when blind and sighted talk adaptations. What most people in the mainstream want to know is whether a program or app can improve our livelihood. Some folks want to see that improvement happen overnight while others are more patient, realizing that whatever assistive technology we get will take time to learn.

In that way, giving a new device, app or program a chance is like the bonding process with a new guide dog. The learning curve will take a little while. Bonding with a dog takes six months to a year. The user and dog make mistakes just like we who learn to navigate a new techie adaptation make mistakes when learning its capabilities.

Yes, new gadgets get hyped with the promise of working “right out of the box. Developers advertise their apps as “instantaneously” making life better.

Thank goodness for those who offer that free two week trial period or  that downloadable free forty minute mode. We can give technology a chance when learning the contours that will benefit us in the long run.

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