It's the week before finals, and one or several devices you use decide to crash. Maybe you've been ignoring minor warning signs of impending doom, or maybe your technology just quit one day.
Or maybe you really need a refresher on formatting commands for the paper you're writing RIGHT NOW and can't remember how to access the help file. We've all been there. Technology is great … when it works, but what about when it doesn't?
It can seem annoying to wait on hold or daunting to admit your imperfection and ask for help. You might be tempted to ignore the issue or to ask your parent or TVI to call on your behalf while you stew in your own panic. But you are an adult, and calling to get help with your technology is not only necessary for the moment but a great way to practice self-advocacy in other areas. Plus, the technical support specialists should understand terms like braille or magnification, which may fluster your instructors. If you can wait a day or two for a response, emailing Technical Support for your product's company may be an option; however, for immediate feedback, it is still best to call a technical support line or live-chat.
Keep the following tips in mind when you call for technical support:
1. Allow yourself plenty of time.
You may get lucky and connect to a representative immediately, but more than likely, you may need to wait for a few minutes before speaking to one. Don't cram the call into the five minutes before a lecture.
2. If possible, locate your product's serial number or your software's version number.
Most products or software programs have identifying numbers which quickly help the specialist to locate other important data about it, such as its version or when it was purchased. If possible, try to locate that before your call so you're not scrambling during the call to find it. Several of our mentors recommended creating a file, stored in multiple places, which contains all of your technology's identifying information.
3. Gather as much information about the problem as possible.
Even the most astute technical support specialist can't do much with, “It's broken!” Figure out how you will explain your issue concisely, but provide enough detail so that the support person can ascertain the problem. If applicable, explain the steps you already tried when attempting to fix the problem on your own.
4. Don't blame the person on the phone.
It can be tempting to pour out your anger and frustration on the person at the other end of the call, but try to remain calm. Serenity will help you to listen to the suggestions from the technical support specialist and will also help this person to solve your problem more quickly. If you don't understand the support representative's answer, be sure to ask follow-up questions or rephrase what you've heard to check for understanding. However, if the representative is truly unhelpful, politely request to speak to a supervisor.
5. Thank the representative for her time and help.
Gratitude goes a long way in helping both parties to feel better about the transaction; it also gives you a positive connection to the company, should you need to use their service again in the future. The blindness world is amazingly small, so chances are good that the people on the phone will remember you when you call back. They won't think of you as stupid for needing help, but they will remember whether you were a pleasure to work with.
6. Develop a backup strategy.
If your device is truly broken, the repair may take a couple of weeks, which is time you will lose if the crisis happens during the semester. Some companies will send you a device to borrow while yours is being fixed; check with your company's support representative to find out if this is an option. Even if the loaner is an option, it's important to talk to your instructors, friends, or disabilities office to develop a feasible backup plan for completing your papers and exams on time. Alerting people about the problem and proposing alternative solutions will gain much more traction than blaming a failed semester on a technology issue.
Technical Support Information
The directory below will show you how to get in touch with vendors of the most commonly used mainstream and specialized devices. Whenever possible, the links in the list will take you to these companies' support and accessibility pages.
Go to their support website.
Products: Mac with Voiceover, iPhone, iPad.
Products: Jaws for Windows, Magic, OpenBook, Pacmate
Products: BrailleSense, low vision products.
Products: BrailleNote Apex, Victor Reader Stream.
Kurzweil Educational Systems
Technical support is available through their website; they schedule calls back.
Products: Kurzweil 1000.