From the blind or visually impaired technician or end user’s point of view, the initial use of the newly released Remote Incident Manager tells them all they need to know; the delight at being able to provide remote support to a computer that lacks a screen reader is often hard to describe in words. If you’ve had impassible barriers to remote access in the past, you know exactly how it feels to smash those barriers. Liberating. We even saw how RIM compares to other assistive technology in the field. This time, RIM is being compared to a long-existing industry standard utilized by IT departments around the world: TeamViewer.
While TeamViewer is one of the most widely used remote access solutions in the world, it has several shortcomings for people who require assistive technologies such as a screen reader, whether they’re providing or receiving remote support. Beyond the accessibility issues, the support process is more complicated than it needs to be. Let’s compare how each program handles the various steps taken in resolving a remote support incident.
The Installation Process
Unless a user is an employee running company-provisioned computers, the likelihood of having a remote support solution installed already is quite low. So what happens when a technician informs a user that they should go and install a utility to allow them to help fix their computer issue?
The installer asks too many questions, many of which do not concern an end-user simply trying to receive assistance. Why should the end-user have to click the non-commercial/personal use option, go through a terms of service screen, etc. if all they’re doing is receiving help? While TeamViewer has a single-use Quick Support utility, it is not the default offering; in other words, if an end-user simply does a Google search for TeamViewer, the likelihood of finding it isn’t nearly as high. Therefore this is not an effective solution.
Remote Incident Manager
To begin with, the RIM main page is a very simple webpage with a clearly present download link. Once the user runs the installer, the installer cuts to the chase without stopping to ask questions. Once the installer finishes, RIM immediately launches and presents a user with a helpful welcome screen that directs them straight to the keyword prompt where they can type the keyword given to them by the technician (more on session initiation later). Making the installation simple is not only a massive accessibility improvement, but a simplicity improvement that anyone can benefit from. Noone wants an installation process that is drawn out for the sake of being drawn out. Especially when a user is facing a computer problem that needs to be resolved quickly. RIM’s installation is designed with this fact in mind.
The Connection Process
The simplicity of the connection process is dependent on each program’s specific procedure.
One would hope that a program whose ostensible purpose is to help resolve a problem would make every effort not to create one in the process. Unfortunately, TeamViewer’s process is far from ideal. Firstly, the TeamViewer user interface is not easy to work with. There exists a single interface both for the person receiving help and the person providing it. This needlessly complicates the process by introducing controls that may be unnecessary for either party. TeamViewer’s interface is made worse by the fact that it is inaccessible with screen readers due to the broken implementation of Windows accessibility standards. The target end-user must locate and read both a partner ID and a password, which the controlling technician must then enter. The inaccessibility of the TeamViewer interface makes it hard for a visually impaired end-user to give the technician the information they need. What’s more, since these numbers are randomly generated, situations like M and N appearing in the same password are entirely possible which is far from ideal when initiating a support session from a phone call.
Remote Incident Manager
RIM provides two simple screens, one for providing help, and the other for receiving help. To make the process of getting connected as easy as possible for end-users, the screen for receiving help is displayed by default in a new RIM session. To start a new session, the technician chooses a keyword, which may be as simple as one letter, enters it in RIM, then tells the end-user to enter the same keyword. The end-user doesn’t need to locate or read random sequences of numbers or letters to get connected. Keep in mind that RIM is an accessible remote support platform designed to be used by everyone, not just the visually impaired. Thus, in an effort to simplify the process for less proficient screen reader users, RIM has made the process easier for everyone. The best accessibility features are the ones that everyone can benefit from.
In the Session
For everyone’s sake, the incident resolution process should run smoothly.
The possibility for problems doesn’t end after you’ve made it through the connection interface. TeamViewer has its fair share of issues that determine it to be an unacceptable solution due to its inability to accommodate all users.
TeamViewer expects that a mouse is being used. This is bad news for visually impaired technicians and end-users. For example, there is no way to end a session with the keyboard. The end user has to focus the TeamViewer window, exit out of it, and hope it cuts the connection. With this in mind, it is no surprise that TeamViewer does not handle screen reader keyboard commands well. If the
controller is running a screen reader, that screen reader will intercept some keyboard commands and prevent them from being passed through to the target machine. This is especially problematic if the target machine is also running a screen reader which the controller needs to interact with. On top of that, if the target machine is running JAWS, the market-leading commercial screen reader for Windows, then keyboard commands sent by the controller are completely ignored by JAWS on the target machine, unless an obscure JAWS configuration option is changed. This means that the controller can’t issue JAWS commands, but it also means that the controller can’t interrupt JAWS, and that JAWS will fail to react as it should to some Windows keyboard commands.
TeamViewer has two separate session types: remote control and file transfer. This makes sending files across the session more inconvenient than it has to be.
Lack of Equal Access
As with all other remote access solutions, TeamViewer does nothing to make a remote machine accessible if that machine doesn’t already have a screen reader installed and running. The support technician is thereby required to download and run a screen reader on the user’s machine. Even when a screen reader is present, TeamViewer’s remote audio isn’t always reliable or responsive. These issues present a major barrier for blind technology professionals who need to use the same remote access solutions as their sighted peers.
Remote Incident Manager
RIM has been designed to overcome all these obstacles.
RIM provides keyboard shortcuts to control various functions. Pressing Windows+Shift+Backspace on either end of the connection brings up the RIM menu, which in turn allows the technician to direct focus back to their main computer. For the end user, this provides an easy way to disconnect the session, which can be done even easier via the Windows+Shift+D keyboard shortcut.
Reliable Keyboard Handling
RIM’s keyboard input handling has been carefully designed and tuned to solve all of the problems encountered when using a screen reader on either end of the connection. RIM will handle keyboard shortcuts smoothly regardless of which screen reader either party is running.
RIM removes all file transfer-related complications simply by enabling the ability to copy/paste across the session.
RIM uses the latest advancements in real-time audio encoding technology to provide extremely responsive, high-fidelity stereo audio. You will hear any and all audio that is playing on the end user’s machine during the session. This makes it much more pleasant to use a screen reader on the remote computer.
In instances where a screen reader is not present on the user’s machine, RIM’s remote accessibility module takes over. The remote accessibility module works in conjunction with the NVDA screen reader on the controller’s machine to make any remote Windows machine fully accessible. The target end-user doesn’t hear any speech output or see any change in their screen display, so they don’t even need to be aware that they’re being assisted by a blind person. This makes RIM the world’s only fully accessible remote desktop solution.
It is clear by now that RIM outperforms even the most well-established remote support solutions. Seeing as it is the only accessible fully integrated remote desktop platform around, it is safe to say that RIM adds value previously unseen in any RDP application.
- The installation is kept simple for end-users and controllers alike
- The connection process is genuinely user-friendly
- Keyboard handling is solid and reliable
- File transfers are made easy
- Most importantly, full accessibility is included
Invest in RIM today. Your employees and customers, visually impaired or otherwise, will thank you.