My Note to the Blind Trainers Mailing List Regarding the Need for Training Materials For New or inexperienced Users

David Goldfield <david.goldfield@...>

One of the mailing lists to which I'm subscribed is for trainers who provide technology training to the visually impaired. Truth be told I haven't done regular formal training in over four years but I do provide training and assistance to friends and I regularly help out on various lists and other forums where I can. Anyway, I posted the following message to that list regarding what I think is a real need for good, comprehensive training products for users who are either new or inexperienced with Windows. There is a surprisingly small amount of such products and I feel that it's time for that to change. Please consider reading the below message and let me know what you honestly think, even if you feel that there really isn't the need for this sort of material. Here is what I posted.

Hello. I am working with a couple of friends who are new or at least inexperienced in using Windows 10 with a screen reader. One user has not used a Windows computer in quite some time and so she would need a tutorial to guide her not only with introducing her to a screen reader but to the Windows operating system itself. In the early days of Windows 3.1 and the Windows 95/98 era there were a few such products in existence. I am honestly amazed at how few of these tutorials are actually available today covering the use of Windows 10 from the perspective of a very new visually impaired user. I realize that there is no shortage of competent trainers but some users may not be able to afford the services of one on one training. However, they might be willing to purchase a prepackaged tutorial. I realize that there are perhaps many challenges to a one size fits all approach and some might very correctly argue that having customized one on one training is ultimately better for the user since the trainer can more easily adapt to the needs and learning style of the user. This is certainly a valid point and one which I would not debate. However, I have fond memories of some very good training materials from some very talented trainers. The "Speaking Of" series from Krista Earl comes to mind and I had the opportunity to meet Krista about four years ago and I wasted no time in telling her that this new generation of computer users needs her talents. Braille tutorials would also be nice and would be very inclusive for those who are deaf-blind. I'd love to produce one myself but I not only detest the sound of my own voice but I'm a bit of a newcomer myself when it comes to audio production.

I guess that I'll finish up with two questions. First, what tutorials are currently available covering Windows 10 from the perspective of a total novice? Second, have any of you considered producing one? I can almost guarantee that you'd find that many people would gladly purchase it. I realize the irony of the catch 22 situation where promoting such a product on the Web might not actually reach the very people being targeted since many of them aren't savvy when it comes to Web navigation. To that objection I offer the following responses for your consideration.

First, if your tutorial or tutorials are thorough many people who are already online might still purchase them if they feel that they will be able to learn even more or to perhaps fill in any missing gaps in their knowledge. For that matter I'd likely purchase it myself if I knew it would be comprehensive even though I've been using Windows competently since the Windows 3.1 days as there are always new things I know I could learn or perhaps more efficient methods of performing certain tasks that I already perform. I acknowledge that I'm good at what I do but I also acknowledge that I don't know everything.

Second, people like me or others in the assistive technology field would surely be happy to promote anyone's product if it's good, presented well and if it's comprehensive and user friendly.

Third, you could always advertise in periodicals such as the Braille Forum or the Braille Monitor which reaches a very wide and diverse audience. You could ask an organization like Computers for the Blind to mention you as a potential resource by including your information along with every computer they sell. In fact, you could create a mini tutorial for free and ask if they'd be willing to distribute it with their computers and the tutorial could mention a more complete package with your company's contact information.

I'd welcome your input on this topic. I think there is a real need for good, comprehensive training materials either in Braille, in an audio format or, ideally, both. I will likely attempt to do this myself but in my case it's likely going to take a bit of time.

David Goldfield,
Blindness Assistive Technology Specialist
JAWS Certified, 2019

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