Welcome to the Assistech Blog.
I’m excited to embark in this new adventure that is the world of blogging. My name is Oliver Simões and I’ve been serving the Deaf and the Blind communities for over 10 years through my online/retail business. We provide assistive technologies for special needs, mostly for those with hearing and/or visual loss. A lot has changed in cyber space ever since Arizona Hearing Online was founded in March of 2000. Electronic newsletters (the so-called “e-zines”) were very popular back then. Now Facebook, Twitter and other social networks are in the order of the day. Blogs have multiplied by the thousands, if not by the millions (Thank you, WordPress), and Arizona Hearing Online is no more.
When we first started, we only catered to the deaf and the hard of hearing. As our business grew, it got to a point where we realized our company name no longer reflected what we were doing. That’s how ASSISTECH came about. We are based in Tucson, Arizona and we have served thousands of people across the US and in several other parts of the world.
Now, the time has come to take another step. As I sat down to write this post, I had no idea where this was going to take me. But I think this is the beauty about blogging. There is always a surprise element involved. For one thing, you don’t know whether people will take an interest in what you write, and if they do, you still don’t know how they are going to respond. I guess in order to be a good blogger one cannot be afraid of making a fool of him or herself. My goals in blogging are twofold:
First, I’d like to establish a closer connection with my customer base here in the US and overseas. One of the greatest joys for me is when I feel I have made a difference in someone’s life. A few days ago, a lady who was severely hard of hearing came to my office to return a defective phone. I told her our normal procedure is to send the phone back to the manufacturer for repair (since this was a warranty issue). As our conversation got more informal, she went on to tell me the troubles she was facing for not having a reliable phone that she could use to call her friends and family. She was wheelchair-bound and her eyesight was also getting worse, and there was nobody around to help her out. When she needs to buy groceries, she hails a taxicab to the grocery store and tips the driver $10 or $15 dollars to help her carry them. When I gave this lady a brand-new phone in exchange for her old one, her eyes beamed and she had a broad smile on her face. She was visibly touched by my gesture: tears rolled down her eyes. And she was SO thankful. This experience left a deep impression on me as well, as I realized that whatever we do or fail to do can have an impact on other people’s lives.
My second goal in blogging is to try to establish a network of people interested in learning more about technologies that are available for special needs. When I started in 2000, I was clueless. Having taught languages for several years, I had a very basic knowledge about assistive technologies. But I had a strong desire to learn so that I could help others. Like any other student, I made mistakes along the way. Some of them were inconsequential, others were either funny or disastrous, depending on how you look at them. For example, it took me a couple of months to realize that the talking watches I had advertised online to my deaf customers were no good to them. In another instance, I ordered 300 talking calculators from a supplier in China, and I still have them in stock to this day!
But, fortunately, I can safely say that I can count more successes than failures, and I’ve always tried to look on the bright side of things, even when they didn’t look so bright. Life is such an incredible adventure. It feels good to be alive. It feels good to blog.