Standing in different shoes and listening

I spoke with the most amazing tech support person yesterday. He works for a company called ZoomText. They make computer magnification aids. Does he know his clientele! 

He quickly figured out that I could see the screen, unlike many of his customers and unlike my father, who is the one I’m optimizing the computer for. He adapted his guidance to my situation.

He didn’t just help me with the problem I called for. He went through my entire computer and changed the settings to work best with ZoomText.

But he didn’t stop there. He also went in and changed settings that add an extra step. These extra steps, like clicking on an icon to get to the homepage instead of the computer opening to it automatically, aren’t that big a deal for those who can see. For low vision users, something that simple can take several minutes. This man talks to low vision users every day, and has become quite aware of what their challenges are.

He told me that Microsoft used to have the low vision settings listed under Accessories. They changed them to Ease of Access. Sounds okay, but having them listed as accessories put them at the top of the menu. It was easy for his clients to find them. Now, they have to scroll through a menu to find the option they want. He knows – that can take quite a while. It appears Microsoft doesn’t know that. (Their magnifier doesn’t work in the high contrast theme, which is the best theme for low vision, so there are other problems with their set-up.)

The process of helping my dad be able to use the computer is a process of listening very carefully. It’s a process of observing what he does. Low vision people get tripped up on snags that others don’t even notice. I stand in his shoes and I listen.

It’s also a process of getting conscious about what I actually do when I do a process. I do so much of my computing unconsciously. When I try to explain what I do, I often give incorrect instructions. That can mess a low vision user up quite a bit.

My father remarked on how patient I’ve been with him. We run into one obstacle I never imagined, and we try something else.

But this couldn’t be happening if he wasn’t patient with me. I’ve tried many things that haven’t worked. I think I’ve found the set-up that will. We’ll see.

But it isn’t really about patience. It’s about awareness and love. And that keeps growing.

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