Telo: Great Product, but Very Trying for Visually Impaired

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Joined: Sat Oct 16, 2010 7:04 am

Telo: Great Product, but Very Trying for Visually Impaired

Post by CallMeAl » Sat Oct 16, 2010 9:02 am


I am a new Ooma user, and thought it might be valuable to the evolution of the product to relate my experiences thus far. First, a bit of background. I am a life long gadget geek, and work in the IT field. As such, I have always enjoyed the thrill of unboxing, setting up, and learning how to use a new device. I'm the kind of guy who admittedly doesn't RTFM until absolutely necessary, and perish the thought of relying on someone else to resolve my tech issues for me. I am also blind, meaning that I have virtually no usable vision.

I have gotten my Telo set up, but for me, the process consisted of one hurtle after another, and wasn't nearly as satisfying as it could have been.
Immediately upon taking it out of the box, I found that I was dead in the water, as I had no means of determining my device activation code. I live alone, so this was more than a minor inconvenience.

After finally getting the Telo activated, I realized that the top of the device contains a control pad, which doesn't offer any tactile feedback whatsoever.

I decided to jump onto this forum to express my concerns, and had problems registering because of the visual CAPTCHA verification with no audio alternative. Captchas prevent spam bots from accessing your site, but if implemented incorrectly, they're just as effective at keeping out those of us who use screen reading software.

By this time, I was pretty disgusted, and had half a mind to box the thing up, find a different VoIP alternative, and move on with my life. However after all that, the device does seem to be working rather nicely, so I think I'll stick around for now.

A free or low cost phone service is something that obviously has universal appeal, and that being the case, I would hope that in the future, your company will give more thought to the precepts of universal design.

Of all the issues outlined above, by far my greatest concern is my inability to do anything at all with the controls on the Telo. In fact, not only are the controls inaccessible, they are a liability. I find that I'm paranoid, and keep my hands away from the box as if it were a hot stove. I'm afraid of inadvertently changing some setting, and then needing to rely on someone to come over and get me out of a mess. Also, I am apparently totally unable to take advantage of some basic features such as three way calling.

One way around this issue might be to develop an optional tactile overlay which could be placed over the top of the unit( GE does this for many of their microwaves). It would also be good to be able to replicate as many of the functions of the control pad as possible in other areas, either via the web UI, or via any handset attached to the device. Three way calling for example, should work as it does on every other phone service and not rely on one's ability to access the Telo box itself.

Thanks for listening!


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Re: Telo: Great Product, but Very Trying for Visually Impaired

Post by southsound » Sat Oct 16, 2010 5:55 pm


First off, welcome to ooma and to the forum! I'm just a user like yourself but I frequent the forum often and quite frankly, I'm amazed at the value of your first post. I believe ooma wants to do a great job of providing a phone service - but I'll bet they never gave much thought about usability for the visually impaired. Your post will help to make them aware of some of the difficulties with their current product and possibly they can come up with something to assist you in using your Telo. The touch pad has proximity sensors under the silicone skin so I don't think you could add braille notations on the buttons themselves - but right under them would work great. Maybe this is something you could do with braille labeler but of course, you would have to have someone apply them for you. For several of the buttons it would be valuable to have a "spoken" feedback option. For instance, the Do Not Disturb button should speak the status when pushed. I believe there are two people at ooma who would be very interested in what you have to say - and may even be able to use your input to help them create a more useful product and even a spoken captcha. Those people are Bobby Biswall and Dennis Peng. I am going to guess that your screen reader does hyperlinks pretty well so here are links to send them a private message: Bobby B and Dennis P.

Again, we're glad you are here and hope that you continue to contribute to the forum!
ooma customer since February 2009
VoIP hardware: 2 Telo w/3 handsets & Linx / ooma core
Total Lines: 8 / Numbers: 11 / Handsets: 20
Lifetime Premier Member
Friends don't remember what Landline Integration was or why we did it.

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