Strategies and References for Learning How to Use Equipment and Technology

Compiled by PCB’s Information Access Team

If you have received or purchased a headset, stereo, coffee maker, or any kind of appliance or technology, figuring out how to use it can be daunting. This document aims to give you strategies you can use to get the information you need. You can use any or all of these strategies, or others of your own making, to find out what you need to know. This is not a comprehensive guide but is instead a springboard or starting place. You might even choose to use some of these resources prior to making a purchase to find the item that will be easiest for you to use.

Strategies
1 Contact the manufacturer. Use a site like www.GetHuman.com or use the Get Human app to obtain the phone number for nearly any company. If you can’t find it there, most companies list contact information on their websites and through Directory Assistance.
2 Look for manuals and reviews. Even if you don’t buy your item through www.amazon.com, this can be an excellent resource. Sometimes, a link to the user guide is present in the product description. Often, by reading product reviews, you can find out information about how to use a specific feature of the device that interests you. This can take some time and may involve piecing together the various bits of information, but it can be quite helpful.
3 Take a look at YouTube. If your device has an audio component, you might find helpful information on www.YouTube.com. Some patience may be required, since this site is primarily concerned with videos. However, you can still find some useful information and demonstrations.
4 Use that search engine. If you need to find a manual, product website, or additional information, using a search engine like Google, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo will help.
5 Phone a friend. If you have a friend or family member with the same device, give him or her a call. If you have a sighted family member who is good at describing things but who lives a distance away, use FaceTime or Skype on your smartphone, and the other person can give you information about the location of buttons and other important elements.

Below is a list of helpful resources for finding information on some commonly purchased products. While some information links directly to accessibility hotlines or departments, you can contact a company directly if this information is not available. Please note that inclusion of a specific resource does not imply an endorsement. Also, if a company or manufacturer is not included, this does not mean their product is unusable for the blind. The below resources are a representative sample only.

For Amazon products such as the various Echo, Kindle, and Fire lines of products the accessibility line is: 888-283-1678

Comcast Cable Accessibility Team: 855-270-0379

Apple Accessibility Line: 877-204-3930

Microsoft Accessibility Line: 800-936-5900

For product information and packaging directions for many foods and household items, visit www.DirectionsForMe.org
This service is only available online.

Google offers a disability customer support team to answer questions about using assistive technology with Google products and accessibility features and functionalities within Google products. The support team can be reached Monday through Friday, 8am-5pm PST through email to disability-support-external@google.com.

GE sells a talking laundry module that works with a specific GE washer and dryer and can be retrofitted to work with many others. It talks the user through setting various controls and provides alerts about the amount of remaining time. Their website is: https://firstbuild.com/products/talking-laundry-module/

The Jenny Beck Chapter of the Braille Revival League will emboss manuals in braille. To obtain more information, please email May Davis at mayanddon@verizon.net.

Tangible Surface Research sells tactile icons and overlays for appliances and devices. You can visit their site at http://tangiblesurfaceresearch.com/

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