In fall of 20021 after being stuck at home for almost a year I needed to by a new washer. Because much of the world was still shut down due to COVID, we were not able to go in to a store and check out our choices to make sure I could use what ever model we ended up buying. When I got the new washer home I found that my hope that I would be able to use it through the companion app was just a dream. Ee set the unit up and connected it to the home network and I set up to do my first load of laundry. When, I was told “For your safety press and hold the remote start button in for 3 seconds.” This button we found out was not a button I would ever be able to find or press without help from a sighted person. So back to not being able to do my own laundry.
This event made me very angry and this is why I started the Know Before You Buy project. At first this project was going to be a product review channel focused on home appliances. I found out very quickly that this was a popular idea, my YouTube channel went viral with the first video. People were all agreeing with me about how bad touchscreens were and how important it was to have devices that everyone could use.
My first video was so popular I soon did a followup to show more about the problems in the same unit. This video was picked up by a newspaper in Korea, the home of the manufacture of the washer. The article challenged the manufacturer to work with me to fix the problems and so they reached out and made some changes.
Today the washer is usable but I would not say its fully accessible. The manufacture made it so a cell phone could act as a screenreader for the device. The app used to do this is quite clunky and takes a lot of work to get working and is not always reliable but am able to use the washer completely independently. I still have many ideas of how appliances could be better and I hope to be able to communicate my ideas to the people that can actually make a difference.