locked Re: Amazon: Am I the only one that feels this way?

Gerald Levy

Well, you are lucky that you have access to taxis and ride-hailing services.  In NYC, taxis and ride-hailing services do not serve many low-income neighborhoods.  This has been the case even before the pandemic.  And to be fair, paratransit has also been problematic.  And yes, you do have to book trips in advance.  It is just too screwed up right now to rely on.  Besides, taxis and ride-hailing services have now been relegated under city orders to delivering millions of meals every day to homebound residents who are afraid or otherwise unable to shop in person at a supermarket.  Some private car services have even shut down because they simply do not have enough customers to keep running.  And soon, public transit may become aserious problem for both blind and sighted residents alike because of huge pandemic-related defecits that will force the local transit agency to drastically reduce or even eliminate bus, subway and commuter rail service unless financial aid is forthcoming from Washington, which does not seem likely. 



On 10/19/2020 10:01 AM, chris judge wrote:
And can you call and book a ride on a whim, or do you have to plan your trips in advance. Here we have the access-a-bus, but you have to book your trips days in advance, so when I travel I use the same system my sighted counterparts use, it's called taxi, or, hopefully in the not too distant future, uber or lift.

Chris Judge

-----Original Message-----
From: main@TechTalk.groups.io <main@TechTalk.groups.io> On Behalf Of Gene
Sent: October 19, 2020 10:46 AM
To: main@TechTalk.groups.io
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] Amazon: Am I the only one that feels this way?

But it is often inefficient and is not remotely equivalent to having your own private car and chauffeur, available to take you anywhere, any time.  If you have to wait twenty minutes or half an hour to be picked up, and twenty minutes or half an hour to be picked up to return home, that is hardly reasonable access to travel.

Where can you find help?  The law can't solve everyone's problems.  {Perhaps a local computer club would help.  Perhaps an amateur radio club would help. 
Perhaps a reader would help.  All these ways are assuming you don't have a friend who could or would help.

-----Original Message-----
From: Gerald Levy via groups.io
Sent: Monday, October 19, 2020 8:37 AM
To: main@TechTalk.groups.io
Subject: Re: [TechTalk] Amazon: Am I the only one that feels this way?

This is not quite true.  As a blind person, you are most definitely entitled 
to a special car and"chauffeur".  It's called paratransit, and it is  a 
service availabel for reasonable fare in all major cities includingChicago. 
Non-disabled  residents cannot take advantage of this service.  So what if 
the car isn't a Rolls Royce?  It will still take you where you want to go. 
So your argument isspecious.   And by the way, sighted consumers who have 
dexterity or other health issues that make using a touchscreen impossible 
are just as entitled to accessible smart phones with tactile keypads or 
voice command capability as blind consumers. And where do you find sighted 
help to set up a smart speaker for you, anyway?  My sighted elderly 
next-door neighbor wouldn't know a Google Home mini from a kumquat. Besides, 
because of the surging pandemic in most parts of the country, it may be 
difficult to impossible to find a tech-savvy sighted person who is willing 
to visit your home right now. My tech savvy friend would be happy to set one 
up for me.  Except that he is currently in lockdown and quarantine for the 
foreseeable future, and refuses to use public  transit to visit me, because 
he believes it would  be risky. And good luck trying to get help from a 
social services agency.


On 10/19/2020 8:31 AM, Gene wrote:

And I can't afford a chauffeur.  Am I entitled, because I'm blind and can't 
afford one, to have one provided, on 24 hour call on accessibility grounds? 
given the amount of money I have access to on my fixed income, a new car 
would be an economic burden and a used car would be something I wouldn't 
want to spend money on.  Am I entitled to one or a free state owned car and 

And what about all the sighted people who can't afford new or reasonably 
afford used cars?  Do we, as blind people deserve one on accessibility 
grounds while denying cars to everyone else because they don't have a 

At some point, the law stops being able to solve every conceivable problem, 
and trying to do so may yield perverse or manifestly unfair or unjust 

And what about sighted people who can't or won't use cellular phones? 
Should they have an accessibility cause of action in this case? 
Accessibility law doesn't and has never said, that every conceivable 
disability problem must be addressed.  It uses, as the law so often does the 
reasonable standard.  Accessibility is to be achieved if it does not place 
an undue burden on the entity in question.  Sometimes, the disabled person 
has to find a way to solve a problem.

If someone sets up a Google Voice, it can be used from then on accessibly by 
the blind person.  And I believe the question of using an IPhone out of the 
box has been discussed on lists I follow before and  blind people can start 
voiceover out of the box without sighted assistance.


On 10/19/2020 6:57 AM, Gerald Levy via groups.io wrote:

An Apple IPhone starts at $700.  To me, this is expensive.  Accessible?  I 
understand thatthe the newly released IPhone 12  has no physical home 
button, so how would a blind consumer turn on Voice Over without sighted 
help? Oh yes, I can buy a refurbed IPhone 7 or 8 online for a few hundred 
dollars, still expensive by my standards, that does have a physical home 
button, but probably not at an Apple store.  And kindly provide the make and 
model of an Android smart phone that has physical buttons that can be used 
to set up one of these smart speakers.  I am a senior who finds touchscreens 
difficult to impossible to master for a variety of reasons, and so like many 
other blind consumers, prefers a cell phone witha tactile keypad.


On 10/19/2020 7:02 AM, John Dowling wrote:
I'm going to have to disagree with you there.
It's very easy to set up both an Amazon echo and google home. There 
respected apps on both ios and android are very accessible.
May I ask, what smartphones were you referring to when you said expensive 
and inaccessible.

Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones,  you'll start having 
positive results. -Willie Nelson

On Oct 19, 2020, at 6:46 AM, Gerald Levy via groups.io 
mailto:bwaylimited@... wrote:

The bottom line is that both the Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers 
were never really designed with accessibility in mind in the first place. 
To set up a Google Home device, you need an expensive smart phone, which, 
itself may not be all that accessible.  The Amazon Echo can allegedly be set 
up by computer, but I have not seen any rports from blind consumers 
successfully   setting it up this way without sighted help. Large tech 
companies seem to be sliding backwards when it comes to accessibility.  For 
instance, PayPal, which claims that they are dedicated to making their web 
site accessible, no longer offers telephone customer support for disabled 
customers who encounter problems with the site. The blindness advocacy 
organizations have been uncharacteristically quiet about this issue. 
Despite the problems you have described, they have never demonstrated any 
inclination to take legal action against these companies to force them to 
make their products, apps and customer support more accessible and 
blind-friendly.  Probably because their wimpy lawyers are afraid to 
challenge big bad Amazon and Google and the likes of Jeff Bezos and Eric 
Schmidt.  They are only interested in litigation if they see a big payday 
for themselves.  For instace, years ago when the NFB successfully sued 
Target to force them to make their web site more accessible, they pocketed 
$250K in punitive damages, and since then have not bothered to regularly 
inspect the Target site to ensure that it remains accessible.  In factthe 
Target site, at least from my perspective, has become progressively less 
accessible since thesettlement.  So we blind consumers really have nobody 
fighting on our behalf for better accessibility.


On 10/19/2020 3:58 AM, Leedy Diane Bomar wrote:

I believe in inclusion. Amazon has improved significantly over the last ten 
years in this area. We can now use their hardward devices, including those 
with screens. But, they still have a long way to go as far as their app and 
web site are concerned.

My issue is a mindset and culture concern. We are still considered a 
"special" group. In other words, they still think that a separate website is 
what we SHOULD prefer, though very few use it. I believe that most of you 
would agree the using the app and website should be designed correctly so 
that it is equally accessible and usable for blind and sighted users. 
Separation is never equal.

So, why is it that when one calls the departments that provide customer 
service on using their hardware devices, which include accessible features 
such as voice view, the reps are not trained on those modes and want to send 
us to the Accessibility Department? Tonight when trying to set up my new 
Echo Show, the rep insisted that I could only use it by visually reading the 
screen. She was adamant about this fact, though I knew that wasn't the case. 
The standard help file they send out has no reference to using the device 
non-visually, not even a link! The Accessibility department is a misnomer, 
in fact, a rep from that department referred to it as "search and rescue" 
which may be a more apt title. They certainly don't have the tools to allow 
them to use their apps with voice on either iOS or Android! At best they can 
give descriptions of products and put them in your cart, which is often 

But, am I wrong in believing that the device reps should be trained in using 
those devices by a blind person? Shouldn't they even know that it is 
possible, and research how to set it up?

I had this issue with my first Kindle Fire, three years ago, and raised 
quite a ruckus about it, and hoped it had been resolved. But, it obiously 
has not. Tonight, I spoke with a supervisor who confirmed that the reps are 
not trained or even told that a blind person can make the screen be 
accessible by voice output.

Am I the only one that is bothered by this attitude and its results? Am I 
the only one who writes to the Accessibility development team with 
complaints and suggestions. Several years ago, I even wrote to Jeff Bezos, 
and was contacted by a moron from their Executive team, who was supposedly 
in charge of "accessibility". He said things like: "they were really lucky 
to find me." "Why don't you just use the special access site?" "I used to 
have a blind friend" and worst of all was going to hire Freedom Scientific, 
who he had met at CSUN, to come in and give JAWS training to a group of 
developers while blindfolded! I asked him why they needed to be blindfolded, 
instead of just turning off the screen, and his reply was "but then, they 
could see the keyboard!" I pointed out that the developers needed training 
on coding for accessibility.more than learning JAWS, but he was a 
know-it-all. He refused to attend consumer conventions, saying that he had 
no time for that. I don't know if he is still there, but, he caused more 
problems than fixing anything.

Anyway, I am sorry that this seems like a useless rant, but, I would like 
input from others, of how to address this mindset problem. Is it just me, 
and an unrealistic belief in full inclusion, or, is it a problem for others?



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