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I keep saying that I'm going to write about last Tuesday, and I keep not doing it. So, since I have a little time before I go to bed, here's the story.

Last Monday and Tuesday I was supposed to sit in on a person's training session because I'd done an evaluation to determine if JAWS would be accessible with the software this company was going to be using. I picked up some tricks along the way, and was there so that I could get this person through the initial introduction to the software, and to install JAWS and get it working. The 19th was kind of a wasted day for me because I found out that A, they weren't going to be working on the computers that day, and B, I couldn't even install anything until someone submitted a work order to the IT department. So, I left about halfway through the day.

So, for the 20th. I got there at about 20 minutes to seven. I'd put in a time order cab ride two days before, and it was, surprisingly enough, right on time. I went down to the room where the training was taking place and was told that I was set to install JAWS. The IT people weren't coming in until 8:00 though, so for the first hour I kind of did my own thing. At about 8:00 the training facilitator went to talk to one of the IT people. That's when we discovered that the person who was supposed to submit the work order had never done it. So, I still couldn't work on the computer. The IT guy finally decided to let me install anyway, and logged me in under his account so that I'd have administrative rights. So, I got things installed, and rebooted the system. Authorization was going to be the next hurdle, but because of lack of time at that precise moment we authorized with my dongle. This is when I found out that some of the training materials were online. Normally this wouldn't be an issue accept for the fact that parts of the training were pictures of text rather than text itself, and therefore wouldn't read. During the evaluation we were told absolutely nothing about this online training. What's more, the person doing the training didn't even know that she was going to be working with someone who was blind. This is a fairly big company, and apparently one hand doesn't necessarily know what the other hand is doing. So, we found a course that was accessible and he started working through it.

Then, at 11:00, it was lunch time. I was hungry, and definitely ready to go eat, but the facilitator said that she was going to have IT come back in so that we could finish the authorization process. Unfortunately, things didn't quite go that way. When it was time to go, everyone got up and left within a matter of a couple of seconds, before I even had a chance to stand up or even open my mouth, leaving me in the room alone. Now, I've had some time to think about this, and I'm sure that others will come up with ways of working around this situation, but what it boils down to is personal comfort levels. I could very easily have gotten up and made my way to the cafeteria. I knew exactly where it was, so getting there wasn't the issue. My problems were these. First, if I left the room, I would have been locked out. Everyone else had card keys to get them back in, but since I wasn't an employee, I didn't have a card. Second, the cafeteria there is huge, with high ceilings, and tons of people. I am personally not comfortable trying to navigate through large crowds, let alone trying to maneuver with food. Let's not even mention the fact that there were several counters, and several different types of food, and I just wasn't comfortable doing it alone. And, I was still waiting to see if the IT guy was going to come in and help me.

Time passed, and nobody came in. The guy I was working with came back in at one point, and he did offer to walk with me down to the cafeteria so that I'd be able to get back in, but by this point I was getting really frustrated with the whole situation, and I really didn't want to admit to him that I was uncomfortable with the cafeteria thing. I think it was kind of a pride thing for me; I'm supposed to be independent and in control of things, and the cafeteria would have shown that I wasn't in control as much as I wanted to be so I told him that I'd be fine. Was I wrong not to just go down there and ask the first person I came across for help? Maybe, maybe not. I have no problems asking for help from people, but I also knew that I was an observer there, and didn’t want to take up anyone else's time, and I've never really been comfortable just walking up to someone and starting up a conversation unless I've at least heard of them before. Let's add to that the layout of the cafeteria, with its many different food areas, including a grill. I also seriously think I need to go and get my hearing checked because I seem to have a lot of trouble in situations like that and I find it hard to even talk to the person next to me. I know I've been saying that for months now, I just need to actually make an appointment and do it.

The facilitator came back in at noon and I didn't have a chance to talk to her about the IT person for a little while. When I finally got to talk to her she said that I should have grabbed her at lunch. I said that since she and everyone else ran out so fast I didn't have an opportunity to do anything. The guy I was with said that "blind people can do pretty much everything, but finding a specific person in a crowd is a little bit difficult sometimes." So, I was all ready frustrated by the fact that the online training modules weren't mentioned during the evaluation and the fact that they weren't working. So, when I discovered that administrators have no Internet privileges I was really not pleased. I attempted to register JAWS the normal way. When that didn't work, I asked the facilitator to help me generate the activation code from the web site. When that didn't work either I was really getting irritated. This place has such high security settings that something as simple as JAWS activation is impossible, even as a network administrator. Yes, firewall settings could have been opened that might have allowed me to perform the registration. But, this machine was only the training machine, not the machine that he'd be working at later. So, we'd have to go through all of this again with his main machine. To me, it just wasn't worth it, and my frustration was at an all-time high.

Then, another, more urgent problem started to manifest itself. I really needed to use the bathroom, but again, leaving the room meant I couldn't get back in, and from the classroom they couldn't have seen me at the door. So, me and my bladder of steel had to sit and tough it out for a while longer. I went into another part of that area to use a phone so that I could call the office and explain the problems I was having with authorization, and to see if we could talk to this guy's rehab counselor about authorizing the purchase of a dongle. I figured that after all this trouble it would just be easier to get a dongle that would authorize any computer running an ILM version of JAWS then messing with everything else. I think it was pretty obvious to everyone in the office that things weren't going well, but I wasn't in a position where I could talk freely about things. They kept asking me questions, and I kept saying that I couldn't answer them, which only made me feel worse than I all ready felt. By the time I got off the phone I was ready to go home. I didn't want to be there, nothing I was doing was working, and I was just ready to call it quits on this particular project. Did I mention that the person who was responsible for hiring this guy was out for the week so was absolutely no help in this situation? He was the one that should have communicated to the training department that they'd be getting someone who was blind. But that didn't happen.

About that time the facilitator came over and asked what we were going to do from here. At that point I told her that the next order of business was a bathroom break. Since the group was doing their online work again she was free to take me and get me back into the room. On the way I mentioned to her that I hadn't gotten lunch, and why, and asked her if she could help me with the snack machines so that I'd at least have something to eat and drink. I ended up with a bag of pretzels and a soda which, although didn't satisfy me, definitely did something for me. After the bathroom break and the food, things started to get a little bit better. I had been given permission to leave my dongle with this guy and one was being ordered for him. He agreed that he'd return mine once his came.

One of the main reasons I was there though was to get him through a program that kind of resembles a DOS program, and actually runs on command line prompts. Unfortunately, the log-on process is a bit tricky, and I'd worked out a way of doing it, as well as some tips for using the program once he was logged in. We got to that program at about 3:00 PM, which only gave us an hour. We got the log-on process figured out, but then there was no time to work with the program. So I basically had to tell him about my suggestions and leave him to sink or swim on his own. I felt bad about it, but there was really nothing I could do at that time.

I was extremely happy to get home at around 4:30. I had to call back into the office though so that I could explain what had happened. The lack of communication between departments was probably one of the most frustrating things for me. I just don't understand how a big company can function, how anyone can function for that matter, without good communication. The good thing is that it's over, and this week has been extremely light; made lighter by the two people that cancelled on me.

Well, I should be getting my apple peeler thingy tomorrow, so I'll be making applesauce tomorrow night! How much more simple can it get than apples, sugar, and cinnamon? Hey, I'm all about the easy stuff. SMILE! Later!

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