Peeter Joot's (OLD) Blog.

Math, physics, perl, and programming obscurity.

Ontario government accessibility education module.

Posted by peeterjoot on November 28, 2011

I’ve just completed the Ontario government accessibility education module that’s mandatory for all IBM employees. Ironically, it is delivered in what seems like a condescending fashion, stating many things that seem obvious.

To demonstrate this, consider the inverse of some of these points:

  • Assume the individual can’t see you.
  • Assume what a person can or cannot do.
  • Be inflexible.
  • Disrespect personal space.
  • Do not be confident and never reassure.
  • Do not speak directly to your customer.
  • Do not take the time to get to know your customer’s needs.
  • Exercise impatience.
  • Help before you ask.
  • If you’re giving directions or providing any information, be imprecise and undescriptive.
  • Interrupt or finish your customer’s sentences.
  • Lean over them and on any assistive devices.
  • Leave the individual in awkward, dangerous or undignified positions.
  • Leave your customer in the middle of a room.
  • Make sure your customer does not understand what you’ve said.
  • Move items, such as canes and walkers, out of the person’s reach.
  • Provide information in a way that does not work for your customer.
  • Shout.
  • Use obscure and incomprehensible language.
  • Walk away without saying good-bye.

I think that many of the people who actually need many of the tips given aren’t going to be helped at all by them since this likely indicates a  failure to observe their environment.

That said, I think I still did learn some things from the education.  One is that most people that are legally blind are not fully blind.  I also admit that I don’t understand all of the points.  For example, if I encountered somebody with a deafblind impairment who was accompanied by an “Intervenor”, I would guess that I’d address my communication at the Intervenor because I could communicate with that individual.  Perhaps that point was meant only for Intervenors for less severe communication issues, such as communication with somebody deaf accompanied by somebody who signs for them?

I’d also guess that the tendency to want to help causes many people to violate the “Ask before you help” point without them even realizing it, but if the individual doesn’t mention it when it happens, being told to ask first is probably not enough.  That must be frustrating to an involuntarily “helped” individual.

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