More instruction manuals needed in alternative formats

Good morning, we the team at are pleased to bring you an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan.  An editorial that focuses on the importance of producing more manuals in alternate formats.

We wish you a great weekend.
More instruction manuals needed in alternative formats
It’s really interesting and in many cases mind boggling when I come across companies that do not understand when I ask for manuals to be provided in alternative formats.  Maybe someone can help me out here.  The problem is this!  I go to a store that sells products for blind and visually impaired persons.  I purchase my product but before paying I ask the sales person at the store if the product comes with a manual either in Braille, on cassette or CD, or even on a diskette.  The sales person tells me that the manual is only available in printed format. 
I ask the sales person whether or not the manufacturer can provide me with the instruction in an alternate format and 99% of the time the sales person asks me if I can find someone to read it to me.  When I respond with an emphatic no, they phone the manufacturer to inquire if there is a manual in alternate format.  At this point the sequence of events becomes even more interesting.  The manufacturer says no, they do not have the instruction manual in alternate format, and I would just have to get by with a printed manual.  The same thing happens when I order from a store.
A few months ago I ordered a Sudoko game from Maxie Aids and when I attempted to obtain a Braille manual from the manufacturers, R. E. B. Magnetics, there reaction was that it was just too costly to put the manual into Braille and they were not planning to do anything about it.  Thankfully, Maxie Aids decided to come to my rescue and they are in the process of putting it on to cassette for me.  The same problem just occurred at Independent Living Aids where I recently purchased a multi language Webster dictionary.  I received my purchase with a printed instruction manual but without any manual in alternate format.  When I phoned Independent Living Aids last week to complain, their initial reaction was to ask me if I could find someone to read it to me but after persisting for a few minutes they agreed to try and help me out.
It is time for blind and visually impaired persons and even the print disabled to stand up and say no more.  No more of this nonsense!  If you are either not willing or able to provide instruction manuals in alternate formats then you should not be selling products for those of us who are print disabled.  It is an insult and extremely discourteous to do so.  If you can’t do something properly then don’t do it.  How would these companies react if they were to receive a product with an instruction manual in Braille or on cassette but no print manual?  They would probably be screaming fowl!  I am just a bit too tired of this nonsense and I hope that more of our readers feel the same.  Time for action!
I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day.
To reach me, please send an email to and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter.
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weekly editorials on accessibility issues in Canada
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About Donna Jodhan

Donna Jodhan is an award winning blind author, advocate, sight loss coach, blogger, podcast commentator, and accessibility specialist.
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