A few weeks ago, a patron began sessions by asking the chatting librarian to type all responses in capital letters. Rather than entering a question in the question form, he wrote a variation of: “PUT CAPS ON”, “ I NEED CAPS FROM YOU” or “I NEED CAPS LOCK FROM YOU”. Apparently, when the chatting librarian types using all capital letters, it is easier for this patron to see the text. Here is a sample session from this patron:
Patron: I NEED CAPS LOCK FROM YOU
Librarian sends greeting
Librarian: how may I help you
Patron: ITS AT THE TOP
Librarian: you appear to be using caps lock
Librarian: that is why I am asking
Patron: YEP I NEED YOU TO USEUM TO
Librarian: I am sorry but I am working with three of you
Librarian: so cannot switch to caps lock
Librarian: is there anything else that you need
Patron: WHY CAINT YOU USE CAPS?
Librarian: because then I would be using them for all three people
Librarian: and caps is considered shouting
Patron: NO ITS NOT IM VISUALLY IMPAIRED
Librarian continues the session with capital letters
Although it may be uncomfortable to type in all caps with a patron (as the librarian above stated, it is commonly perceived as shouting), it may work better for some patrons. But, don’t use caps unless specifically requested to by the patron, as for most it really does imply shouting!
The QuestionPoint patron interface does provide some assistance for the visually impaired. If you suspect a patron may need assistance, direct them to the “Preferences” link, which appears just under their chat entry box. Patrons can use Preferences to do the following:
- Turn off or on the chime that sounds when new messages are received
- Enlarge the font size.
- Change the font face.
- Change the font and background colors
However, some patrons may prefer caps lock to the options available through Preferences. Either way, you can help make chat more accessible to visually challenged patrons.