Friday, October 30, 2015

An Apple a Day or Every Other Day

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was persuaded by an adaptive technology trainer at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to purchase an iPhone in order to buy and use the KNFB app.  The phone came with no instructions, including how to turn it on and off; but the trainer was showing me what to do until he moved out of town.  He assured me that I would be able to get any help I needed at the Apple store or from AT&T where I purchased the phone.  I have not been happy with the service I received from AT&T nor the Apple product, but I decided not to share my experience—until now.

I received the November issue of Consumer Vision, the online magazine (  A reader wrote the following:
“Recently, I got an IPhone 6 as a birthday present. I went online and tried to find a manual for it. There was a PDF version, but it’s imaged. So, when I tried to open it using Adobe, Jaws said “blank document.” Apple prides itself on having accessible equipment. Yet, when I called the Support Desk, the representative had no idea where I could find an accessible manual.”

First, Learning Ally ( has an audio book, “iPhone, the Missing Manual.”  This book is for older versions of the iPhone, but its Table of Contents and content do teach the basics for most older and new models.
Second, when a PDF says “Blank Document,” it means that a document is there but cannot be read by the screen-reading software.  The item (manual) can be printed if it is not too long and scanned and read by a scanner or a sighted reader nearby.
Third, there is a Missing Manuals website online (
Fourth, a PDF that says, "Blank Document," when opened can sometimes be read by a screen-reader if it is saved to "Downloads" rather than opened immediately.
Fifth, everything on your iPhone or Smart phone must be backed up, including a list of your apps and songs.  Smart phone and iPhone users have lost everything from photos to important documents during the transfer process when a phone was replaced or upgraded.

What follows is the reply I sent to an Apple survey after attending a Beginner’s Workshop at an Apple store.  My feedback was not acknowledged, and a computer savvy friend who volunteers at the Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped says that feedback surveys are trashed.  I am sharing this today because I also received an email from NFB Newsline saying that the KNFB reader is now available for android phones.  Android phones are not sold at stores like the Apple store where “geniuses” at least try to teach customers who need to learn how to use the phone as well as accessibility features.  Please Note: If you decide to trade in your phone for an iPad or a newer model, it is only worth its parts.  In other words, the phone that cost over $500 with the KNFB app is only worth a bit more than $50.  You are expected to read ALL of the print, large and small, online BEFORE buying or learning how to use the product.

My Apple survey feedback after attending a Beginner’s Workshop:  

”Dear Apple Executives:

This survey is not accessible with screen-reading software.  The apple store was an inappropriate setting for a workshop.  The apple staff are not trained teachers and were not prepared to teach a subject as complicated as iPhone use.  The coffee bar stools were uncomfortable.  The loud music made the staff and participants yell, but they still had trouble understanding or communicating with each other.  The answer to most questions was, "Go online to learn about...."  No mention was made of the "iPhone, the Missing Manual" nor was it available for purchase in print or audio format.

The iPhone I purchased at an AT&T store did not come with a box or any instructions.  The phone was defective but was replaced last week at the Apple store.  The second iPhone came in a plain, white box that also had no basic instructions.  I was encouraged to buy the iPhone to use with a KNFB Reader.  The reader works just fine; the iPhone is so bad that I cancelled AT&T service and went back to Sprint to reactivate my cell phone.  I only use the iPhone with the KNFB Reader or YFI as I learn using the "iPhone, the Missing Manual" audio book from Learning Ally.

When I was an undergraduate in the 1960s, my university department chair quoted a character from a George Bernard Shaw play, "Those who can do; those who can't teach."  Then the professor looked wistfully out the window at the education building and said, "Those who can't teach teach others how to teach."  I never found his sarcasm to be true as I studied teacher education, but I certainly found it to be true at the Apple store.  Apple cannot teach.  Apple cannot teach its staff how to teach.  How do you recognize a person who cannot teach?  They cannot tell you what to do; they must take your iPhone and do it for you.

In the past a staff member and I have either had to go out to the Mall hallway or to a room in the back of the store to get away from the noise and hear the iPhone with voice-over on.  Staff members are constantly apologizing for the noise in the store, the uncomfortable chairs, etc.  At the same time, staff ridicule customers when they ask questions (something no trained teacher would ever do) because they are not as open to new things or as fearless as children.  EXCUSE ME!  Just because we adults are not stupid enough to touch something when we don't know what will happen does not mean we are afraid of technology.  Unlike children, most of us do not have parents or teachers nearby to undo our mistakes.  We, unfortunately, must go to the Apple store every other day because Apple cannot teach people with learning styles unlike their own.  Apple is singing to the choir, and I am not joining the choir.  Unless apple learns how to teach the rest of us who lack degrees in computing or engineering, I won't be buying another
Apple product.

Susan Bourrie, Ed.S.”

I want to thank Bob Branco, the publisher of Consumer Vision for giving his readers a platform upon which to communicate and seek answers as we live with low vision and blindness.  If you have not read this magazine, you are missing a real treat (No Halloween pun intended).

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