Wednesday’s article generated responses from Independent Living Aids and the members of the connected online blind community.
ILA’s account manager, Frank Boyden, posted a public comment Thursday morning. “ILA appreciates the feedback. We are always trying to improve and be accessible to our customer base. If you have a question or your not sure about something please ask, we always try to go the extra length and accommodate. Our customer service team is well trained and has been with ILA for a long time as many of our customers know. Although Marryann could have phrased her words differently it sounds to me like she was trying to help. If you have suggestions on how we can improve please feel free to send me an email,” Boyden said.
Boyden removed his comment three hours later despite its lack of controversy. “It was pulled because he was not authorized to give you any answer,” said office manager Barbara Chernosky. “I don’t want somebody posting anything good or bad if they’re not authorized.”
The removal of Boyden’s public comment brought on ethics concerns. Consulting members of the blind community, everyone we asked seemed to be in favor of reposting it for all to see. ” Wow I can’t believe they deleted their own comment,” said an anonymous source.
Chernosky said in a Friday telephone conversation that the Franklin English and Spanish Talking Translator is no longer sold by ILA and that more effort will be expended to identify products that may not be accessible to all customers. “We’re going through every product with a fine tooth comb to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” said Chernosky. “I’m not saying we don’t make mistakes, but we’re correcting them immediately.”
Chernosky further indicated that the company’s representatives are specifically trained to imagine what it would be like to be blind or visually impaired so they will accommodate ILA’s customers and treat them with respect. She also pointed out that Stephen Guerra, a totally blind person and active member of the connected online blind community, heads the company’s technical support team. “Technical support is available all day to help,” Chernosky said.
The company is proud of its web site. “We’re adding sound to our watches and our other speaking products,” said Chernosky. “We’re one of the few companies in the nation with NFB web accessibility certification.”
Product documentation is another area where Chernosky said the company is improving. “Many of our products have instructions that are posted on the web site,” Chernosky said, indicating that Guerra and his team are spearheading this effort.
We thank ILA representatives for their willingness to do the right thing. Upon receipt of the inaccessible product, Chernosky said ILA will refund not only the purchase price but also the shipping costs to Karen, so this situation has a positive ending for us. We can take an important lesson from this story. Even when ordering from a company selling products for the blind and visually impaired, carefully read the product’s description and/or ask a customer service representative lots of good questions to make sure the product will meet the needs of the person who will be receiving it.