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
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
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 free lance writer and roving reporter wishing you a
You can follow me on twitter @accessibleworld
and chat with me on Skype at habsfan0526.
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