In this week’s episode, Ricky Enger is joined by Lisa Salinger and special guest Alena Roberts of the Tripple-click Home Podcast. After the news, Jamie Pauls talks with Kevin Reeves about his new album Remember to Forget.
A T Talk
From Jenine Stanley:
I was going to just do an I-Report about this topic but then I just had way too much to say. Surprise.
I could not agree with Joe and Buddy more on this topic of learning adaptive technology, or any technology for that matter. I was very lucky to have been taught by two people who came into adaptive tech as programmers and had their learning styles influenced by that world in which you learn concepts, not keystrokes.
My first computer instructor was someone many old time assistive tech people will know, Clayton Hutchinson who wrote the Verbal Operating System screen reader for DOS. He was very big on people learning concepts and how programs worked. The first thing I was taught to do when opening a new program in DOS was to go through the menus. What were my options? What were the hot keys if any?
Even before that though, I had to know how to do things like read a line, read a character, move from word to word, search for text on a page. Notice these were not things taught by key command but by concept. I had to then learn the key command.
Sequences might go like this:
I need to know what to do when X happens. read the current line to see what the computer is telling you to do. (Not, press X keys to hear what to do.) Now move up one line to see if there’s any other info available.
That method worked really well for me and before long I was a tech trainer, showing people how to use Word Perfect. I found it very frustrating when the majority of people I worked with would rather just be told what to do each time than try to figure things out using the basics. They were terrified to explore and try out keystrokes and just wanted to know what keys to hit when. This did not help them advance in their jobs as I had to come back every time they had to do a new task.
Years passed and we moved from DOS to the Windows environment. I met my husband who is also an old Unix programmer. Although he had already begun his journey into assistive tech using screen magnifiers, he did not understand screen readers. we both went into Windows relying on our “transfer of skills and knowledge”.
One of his favorite phrases is “You don’t have to go back to Driver’s Ed every time you buy a new car do you?”
I truly do think this approach of just focusing on key strokes is incredibly harmful on so many levels. I see people who don’t even know how to find the info that tells you which of those magical key strokes to use. They would rather ask their sighted family or coworkers to tell them or do it for them. This is not helpful in a job situation.
I have a wonderfully caring and talented coworker who is convinced she can’t understand computers and has to just be told the keystrokes. I know better and have seen her do so much more. finally when she was moved to an office where she could not readily ask people every time she got stuck, she began ever so slowly to figure things out. She’s still terrified to make a mistake but now we are looking at changing her screen reader and she is sort of like a deer in the headlights. I keep telling her it’s no big deal. Both screen readers do basically the same things, just different ways. Focus on what you want to do, not the exact keys to get there.
I also truly believe this way of learning is what eased my transition from my Windows desktop machine to the Mac. When I’d get overwhelmed with commands, I would back up to what I really needed to do. Now, after about 2 weeks of owning this MacBook Pro, it’s my primary computer and I love it. does it do everything as easily as my windows machine? Not quite. It’s different. It does not crash every day though nor does the screen reader just stop working for no reason. Does it read things as easily? Not yet but only because I can’t remember the commands to do so quickly enough.
what I truly don’t understand about so many people I encounter using assistive tech is their fear of trying things. I see people who are paralyzed in front of their machines, afraid to even press a key without being told exactly what to do. then they need so much encouragement afterward to try the next thing. That’s what ended my career as a tech trainer for office tasks. I just couldn’t stand that kind of behavior.
So people, try things. explore. If you screw it up and it stops talking, turn it off and try again. No one will die. Trust me.
Re: Microsoft Superbowl ad: What actually happens in that ad? When I watched it, I just heard a lot of voices, but I had no clear sense of what was happening, except for … a phone call? Or someone getting hearing back, or something near the end. I watched it on YouTube after the fact. (I never watch the Superbowl since the two times I watched and my team lost. I am a curse on football.)
Programming as a foreign language: When I read the article last weekend, my first reaction was “No way!” But then I had to stop and think. I am fluent in Spanish, know a little French, and where have those skills gotten me? Currently unemployed, hoping to get a job in customer service answering phones. I really wish I had worked on computer programming in high school and college. Any free courses out there that you can point to?
More power to a state that wants to help their young people be future-proofed and able to adapt.
BTW, I do not intend to whine or complain. I am at leas tin the door for this job, and I’m better off in that respect than many people, blind or otherwise, I’m sure.