The Inaccessible Accessible

It is a wonderful world we live. No really it is. Yes, there is a hint of cynicism in what i say but really the world is a wonderful place. I compare it with the world that I lived in when I started my career and I can only wonder as to how far that we have come. In 1989, when I started my career, i could not make phone calls independently. A letter took two days to arrive. Texts and email did not exist. Jobs and opportunities were few and far between because that dreaded phone was inaccessible. That has all changed now. The world is much easier for me to access. Couple that with the the growth of social media and free communication tools like Messenger and Skype I really should not have much to complain about. Or should I?

I am moving house. Don’t worry Dear, I am not about to announce the address to the world on this Blog. I already made that in error on Facebook. But anyway, moving involves a lot of logistics, You have to book removalist. You have to finalise leases. You have to connect utilities. You have to notify of changing addresses (Preferably not in error on FB for the world to know.) In short there is a lot to do. Our world today is so much easier for a deaf person to navigate. In years gone by I would have struggled to get it all done on time but not in today’s world.

I mean I don’t even have to wait the mandatory eight minutes  now for a relay officer to actually answer when I use the National Relay Service. Take for example booking a removalist. I go on the internet and I can book online. I can ask for quotes from multiple people through a “removalist broker”. This is like a central point where removalist register their services. You post your needs and those that service your area will contact you with a quote. You can add a little note, “Please text or email because I am deaf.”  The daft ones still call and you ignore them. You just deal with the ones that follow instructions properly. Shows an eye for detail I reckon. But it’s easy, It is such an advance on the inaccessible world of yesteryear.

Then with utilities they also have a text chat feature. If your hearing use it. Why? Because there is no being put on hold and they respond almost in an instance. I am with Optus and I changed the address, got a different package and saved myself $30 a month.  All in 15 minutes. Wonderful.

Well what is there for me to complain about?  Nothing you would think. Yes, John I can hear you from here saying, “HERE IT COMES.”  Well I called DoDo you see, via text chat, and this wonderful new world of mine all came crashing down.

DoDo, if you do not know, provides internet, Gas and Electricity to Australians. I signed up for their gas and electricity because at the time it was the cheapest provider in my region by a very long way. I had had their internet previously. It was OK. I only changed because Optus signed up the English Premier League and if I did not sign up with them I would not be able to watch my beloved West Ham. I remember when I ended it with DoDo for Internet they tried to tell me i owed them the rest of my contract. I reminded them I signed up as it was a no obligation contract that could be ended anytime. The grugingly admitted that I was right. I did this all by text chat. no problem.

So I thought it would be just as easy to transfer my account to a new address. Was I in for a shock. Everything was going swimmingly. We ascertained who I was, where I lived and where I was going. All was beautiful and then the operator asked if he could call me.  Obviously I said no. Told him I was deaf and that it would be pointless.

He insisted that he had to call. He said I had to read out my credit card number to him over the phone. I thought this rather bizarre and wondered how many Deaf people with unclear speech or anyone with a speech impairment would cope with that. I lied a little and said he wouldn’t have been able to understand my speech and that it was pointless,

The operator was having none of this. I reminded him I already had a direct debit account and that they did not need my credit card. He insisted he had to read out the terms and conditions to me. I reaffirmed to him that he needed to type them I would not be able to hear him. He told me not to worry and that I just needed to answer my phone while he read out the terms and conditions for me. I didn’t need to hear them he insisted but he had to read them. “Please just answer the phone. I will be patience.” Yes, this is what he said, grammar error and all. I realised about this time that I probably was dealing with an offshore call centre.

I typed out to him that what he was suggesting was actually illegal. He said he had to go talk to his boss. I waited 15 minute but he did not come back.  I ended the call in disgust.

It left a sour taste. I could have just focused on the positives. In an hour I had arranged a move, almost. It just left me frustrated that with all this wonderful technology to make my life easier the only barrier that I had was – AN IGNORANT HUMAN BEING.

And it is always the case. Solutions abound but the barrier is nearly always an unaccommodating and ignorant human being, Attitude is everything. ignorance is not bliss it is a pain in the arse, It is seemingly only humans that can make the accessible inaccessible. If you do not believe me click on the photo below.

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