Products being sold with inaccessible manuals

Greetings!  I’m Scott Savoy, editor of writing services at  Today, I am delighted to bring you an editorial written by our president Donna J. Jodhan.
Today, Donna takes aim at those companies that offer products for disabled persons but sadly, there are no accompanying manuals in alternate formats.
Here now is Donna’s editorial.
I wish you a great weekend.
Products being sold with inaccessible manuals
By Donna J. Jodhan
This is probably one of the most frustrating things for me; products that cater for the needs of blind and visually impaired persons being sold with manuals in inaccessible formats.  I am just sick and tired of the excuses and I think that it is time for us to start speaking out on this.  Shocker or shaker?  Just a darn shame that manufacturers and vendors continue to sell us products without manuals in accessible formats.
Frankly, I think that it is a downright insult that they do so and it is absolutely a shame that we continue to allow them to get away with this.  Now, before you start to yell at me, I will say that there are some companies that have made the effort or gone the extra mile to provide accessible manuals but you know what?  It should not be viewed as a nice to have; it is only logical and courteous that when a product is sold to us that manuals in readable formats be provided.  How would it be if a product were to be sold to a mainstream person and that the manual were to be provided in Braille?  Or not at all?  I don’t think that the mainstream person would put up with this.  So why should we?

I have a few real examples to report and I’ll let you be the judge.  In 2007 I ordered a Sudoko game from Independent Living Aids and when they shipped it to me I discovered to my horror that the manual only consisted of 1 page of Braille and that the printed manual consisted of several pages.  When I phoned Independent Living Aids, they were very understanding and suggested that I contact the manufacturer which was a company in Washington DC called R E B Magnetics.  When I pointed out my problem to them their comeback was “It is too costly to put the manual in Braille.”  Just imagine how horrified I was to receive this response.  I reported back to Independent Living Aids and to their credit, they produced the manual on cassette for me.  They also took steps to curtail their relationship with R E B Magnetics. 
Last year I bought a talking microwave from a Toronto store that specializes in products for blind and visually impaired persons and guess what?  The microwave came with a manual that was partially produced on cassette.  I had to seek sighted assistance to learn my way around the menus.  This same store sold me a talking calculator without any instructions in an alternative format and as a result I had to seek sighted assistance to set the clock on the calculator.  When I spoke to the store about this, their response was that I should talk to the manufacturer.  In essence, they refused to take responsibility for selling a product that was supposed to cater to my needs except that there was no accompanying manual in a format that I could read.
Over the years, I have bought timers, calculators, and other products that have not been accompanied by manuals in readable formats and my humble opinion is that there are sellers out there that are more interested in making a buck at our expense rather than ensuring that the products they sell contain manuals in readable formats.  This to me should not be allowed to continue and the only way to put an end to it is for us to do something about it.  As long as there is a printed manual, then there should also be an accompanying manual in an alternate format if the product in question is advertised as one that can be used by blind and visually impaired persons.

I’m Donna J. Jodhan wishing you a terrific day and weekend.
To reach me, please send an email to and I would be delighted to send you an electronic copy of our latest newsletter.
Here is a complete list of where you can view Donna’s blogs and editorials.
Donna Jodhan!  Advocating accessibility for all 
a weekly feature on important answers to consumers concerns
Weekly blogs for language professionals and accessibility consultants
A monthly editorial on issues on diversity
a monthly editorial on business issues and concerns 
weekly editorials on accessibility issues in Canada
Editorials:  An International perspective on issues of accessibility and disability (under the editorials section, an international perspective)
A general perspective on issues of access and accessibility 

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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