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I realize that this e-mail is slightly off topic for some of the lists to which
I am sending it but I feel that this is potentially an extremely important
situation for the blind community.
For those who do not know, I am an Amateur Extra radio operator. I do
electronics work for radio purposes and, in fact, am required to keep my
transmitting equipment in good condition by Federal
Communication Commission rules. I have also been an audiologist and
speech-language pathologist for some twenty years which involves the use and
repair of electronic equipment in a number of applications from hearing
testing to speech science research.
About a month ago I purchased a talking multimeter from Omega Engineering.
This is a meter for measuring voltage, resistance, and amperage in circuits.
I spoke with the company rather extensively prior to purchase to insure as
best I could that this meter would be useful to me as a blind person. I
also ordered a special set of test leads for the meter so that rather than
simply touching them to spots in a circuit which I wanted to test I could
actually clip them to the circuit thus leaving one or both of my hands free
for doing other work such as soldering while measuring effects on the circuit.
When I received the meter it was in defective condition. As I had spent
$351.05 on it I wanted it repaired. There is a thirteen month warrantee on the
meter. One problem was that one of the test leads which came with the meter
was defective. The plug which goes in to the meter to attach it would just
simply fall off. The second problem was that the tas adapter which converts
type k thermocouples with flat plugs to round plugs was missing. The third
problem was that the extra set of clip leads I ordered did not fit this
I immediately contacted the company (Omega Engineering) and after being put off
for two weeks finally received a call from a person claiming to be a supervisor
who informed me that because I was blind it was dangerous for me to use the
meter and they would not repair it for that reason. He said that they would,
however, refund my money. I then talked to a person in Omega's legal department
who told me that she would get back to me but that was several weeks ago and I
have never heard back from her.
I wrote the CEO of Omega a letter and told her that I had purchased the meter
and I simply wanted it repaired. I did not mention the fact of my blindness in
the letter. Yesterday I received a return letter from Omega with a shipping
carton, return address label, and a check for my full purchase price of the
meter with a request to return their meter. They explained again that they could
not be a part of a blind person using this meter and that they were only trying
to do "what is right". In the manual for the meter there is actually a
sticker which states that the meter is not intended for use by visually impaired
persons due to increased risk of shock or injury. They specifically refer to
this statement in the letter I received from them.
I know of several blind people who have this meter and of several adaptive
equipment sites which sell it. At this point what I am looking for is any
visually impaired person who has purchased and/or used this meter or anyone
who has used this meter in a facility for visually impaired people. The meter
model is hhm1a but may also be seen as hhm1, hhm2, or hhm2a. I would very
much appreciate anyone with experience using this meter contacting me. I am
looking for a signed statement from any such person as to their use of the
Thank you very much for reading this. This is a very obvious and direct
slap in the face to all visually impaired and/or blind people and I hope to
be able to do something about it. All I really want is for the $17 worth of
defective and missing parts in my meter to be replaced and for this not to
happen to any other blind person in the future. Since no other company
currently makes a talking multimeter it is unlikely that I will simply be able
to go out and purchase one from another company but am stuck with having to
deal with these folks.
Tom Brennan KD5VIJ, CCC-A/SLP
web page http://titan.sfasu.edu/~g_brennantg/sonicpage.html