My review from a blind person's perspective (FW16)

Hi! I’m visually impaired as well and have to admit to doing a tiny dance of joy when I found this thread. I should really say that I’m blind. I have no light perception at all. It’s great to see a fellow screen reader user here!

I have a DIY Framework 16 winging over the Atlantic and am doing some pre-reading of the guides. There are lots of lovely, one-line text instructions that are nice and clear for the most part, but all of the videos are silent movie-style clips. There are no descriptions of the various components outside of color references to open and closed positions from what I can tell, but I’ve only gotten through the component installation guide so far. I found the description of the expansion cards here very helpful. I’m not advocating for a guide so tactile-description heavy that it kills any visually-oriented interest, but I’m anticipating a bit of difficulty setting my components up due to the inability to refer to the pics or videos, and I will cry if I break anything straight out of the box.

To be clear, I love what the Framework team has put together, so please know that I am in no way criticizing your work. I’m going to dive in and give everything a try as is, and will keep a record of my trouble spots for later posting. If I can be in any way useful to the team in updating material from a visually impaired perspective, please let me know. My day job mostly deals with digital accessibility, so I’m happy to help if needed there, too, in terms of your web presence. I don’t want to speak on behalf of the original poster, but I’m guessing they would feel the same about pitching in if needed.

Thank you so much for posting your experience here! I’m reassured that I’m not the only VI DIY enthusiast. I am a beginner, though, so my ignorance may show once in a while.

Apologies for the rambliness of this post. It’s halfway through the week and I’m tired. :smiley:

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I’m glad to hear that you found my review valuable, I’m glad to see it’s being found by others that may enjoy hearing about my experience. I’d be particularly interested in reading your review of your experiences with the Framework 16 if you choose to post it, since I’ve thought about getting one for myself.

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Hi Christina,

It was lovely to read your message! Please share your feedback with us after you assemble your Framework Laptop 16, and please tell us how we can improve our guides. Your feedback will be very valuable. Thank you!

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After hours of work and two different rescue calls to sighted help, I got the hardware together! I would have replied sooner, but it’s been a crazy couple weeks.
Two places on the guides that would benefit from updated descriptions are the input and expansion card latches. The expansion card latches can be found by flipping the laptop over and placing your palms at the corners on the bottom or front. The latches will be under your thumbs. Pushing away from you closes them, and pulling them toward you opens them. The input latches can be found by running your thumbs or fingers along the front edge of the laptop. The latches will be obvious if you use fingernails to feel for their seams.

Writing a text version of how to install the various hard drive units would be immensely helpful as well, with as many tactile cues as possible. My brother gave me sighted help for this and he saw how it worked and fit together in less than a minute. Once I had the correct orientation, the existing text instructions made complete sense, although I didn’t realize that the secondary hard drive is smaller than the primary one, which goes over top of it. I haven’t even tried to write anything up for this bit, but let me know if an attempt would be helpful.

In not so good news, my keyboard doesn’t appear to be operable, and I can’t see any lights to tell if it’s a hardware or software problem. My expansion cards work fine, as I have headphone plugged in and an external keyboard in use as a workaround for now. My OS (Windows) seemed to install just fine, and the drivers also. The numpad works okay on either the left or the right, but the keyboard, which I have on the left usually, only has a couple of keys working intermitantly. I’ve tried my numpad module on both sides, and it works perfectly on both. Maybe I just need a new keyboard module? One of the alt keys works, for example, but none of the letters and not the other alt key. I have a terrible feeling after doing some reading that either the cable on the midplate may be damaged even though I was as careful as I could be removing it to assemble my unit, or my midplate is somehow warped and the connections can’t be properly made.
I’m happy to take the rest of this journey to another topic or thread as needed, but ideas and suggestions would be very welcome and appreciated. I have the following information available if needed.

Laptop: Framework 16 with numpad (on the right) and keyboard (on the left side of the unit), touchpad and two spacers at the touchpad level.
OS: Windows 11
No RGB set (I don’t need it.) No way to see colored lights. I can detect if light is present, but perhaps not if the light is too dim or small. I’d need to use a light probe to check and the closest thing I have is my phone.
If anyone needs to know, I’m running JAWS 2024. That’s screen readingg software for any interested parties.

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Thank you so much for sharing your feedback Christina, I’ll share this with our internal teams!

I would suggest contacting the support team for this issue and letting me know afterwards.

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Moved to its own thread in the Framework Laptop 16 category, hope you don’t mind @Christina_Weymouth.

Since some guidance from the Framework Laptop 13 thread might still be applicable, here’s a link to it: My review from a blind person's perspective

But for the most part, there are significant differences in hardware - the input deck being one of the most pronounced.

Hi Christina,
It would be really helpful if someone could write something about visually impaired insersion of the SSDs and RAM modules.
Very best wishes.

The text instructions made sense for the ram modules, although it did take me a bit to understand what was meant by the second one will fit in upside down to the first one. What I had to do was look at how I inserted the first one, which fit great, first try, and the way, the second one fits in is if you lay it, exactly the same orientation over top, the first one, and then turn it to the right, as if you’re turning a page in a book. The label won’t be facing the same direction as the first one. That is, if the label is facing up on the first module, it will face down on the second one, and vice versa. i’m not sure this will be helpful, but once I figured out, which way I had to flip the module, vertically or horizontally, it made a lot more sense. As for the SSD’s, I think a little more description of what they feel like would be helpful in distinguishing the primary from the secondary. the orientation only needs a small bit of improvement on the actual install instructions I think. One neat thing I finally noticed is that you can feel the numbers of the fasteners on the mid plate. A lot of them are engraved in little squares, and though I couldn’t read the numbers with my fingers, I could feel where the squares were engraved. The texture is a little rougher than the rest of the plate, and it helped me find the fasteners more easily. Not all of them have little engraved squares, but the ones in the middle of the plate do, and the ones around the edges are easier to find anyway. I hope some of this is helpful, and if the team wants or needs assistance formalizing it into any of the guides, let me know. Happy to contribute in anyway I can.

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I don’t mind at all! Thank you for keeping this forum so tidy! I really respect good organization and appreciate such prompt moderation. Thanks for the additional guidance as well!

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Thanks Christina.
I think a rough guide to where on the mother board the RAM and SSD goes would be good. It would save too much feeling around and any fear of causing damage. :slight_smile:
Very best wishes.

Have you ever been in your BIOS?

I’m not convinced that the order that the screws are tighten would be critical but the documentation say’s they should be done in order. If any sighted folk were prepared to describe them… I’m wondering how important this actually is.

I haven’t. I’m a little nervous, to be honest.

If the Framework 13 and Framework 16 BIOS are similar, there won’t be too much to explore. No CPU related options at any rate, unfortunately.

As long as you exit without saving in your BIOS, unless you deliberately want to change something, you should be okay to go into the BIOS and take a look around with some sighted help.

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I don’t live with the rest of my family, so anytime I want my brother to take a look at some thing, we have to use FaceTime or another similar app. I might try it out when I’m down there for Christmas or something, though. It would be good to be familiar with what’s in there, and how things are arranged. I’m pretty comfortable with the hardware in a lot of respects, but the inaccessible bits of the software make me very nervous. I don’t want to break things that I can’t Unbreak without a lot of help. No one thinks to make the bios part accessible because they think we won’t ever want to work in it. That’s very unfortunate, and can prevent a lot of people doing higher level tech work because there’s no way to easily or conveniently work in that environment without a lot of help from another human.

That’s quite understandable.

The order in which the screwa are tightened is designed to take any stresses on the midplate from the centre to the outside, a bit like smoothing wallpaper when pasting it on the wall to get the wrinkles out.

But one thing I found was it pays to do two passes on the screws, the first to get each screw started on its thread, then when all screws are fitted, go round in the prescribed order and tighten them down. I had one screw that wouldn’t start on its thread until I went around and slackened all the others off. Then I went around again and tightened them all down.

The other thing that I hadn’t picked up from the instructions, is that the mid-plate connector pulls straight up. The way the tab lays, and the way the video seemed to show the operation, was to pull the tab to the right. I tried doing this, then must have got sufficient vertical pull to disengage the connector. It was only after I had it unplugged I realised it required a vertical pull.

But can I just also say I am impressed with you folk who have problems with sight working your way through assembling a DIY machine on your own. :+1:

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Could anyone say a bit more about the location and nature of the input latches please? Thank you.

Are you referring to the latches that hold the touchpad and its spacers? They are on the sides of the laptop, just to the left and right of the touchpad area, as you slide your hands out towards the sides of the laptop you should feel a little raised piece right at the front edge. These slide out sideways about a millimeter or so to unlock the touchpad and spacers.

If you are referring to the latches for the expansion modules, these are on the underneath of the laptop. They are about 40mm or so from the front of the laptop in line with the inside edge of the expansion module slots. Pull them about 2mm towards the front of the laptop to unlock the modules on that side, and push towards the rear to lock them again.

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Regarding the Framework 16’s screws, the “correct order” resembles that of putting a tire on a car. As someone who’s redone these screws many times for component swaps, the general philosophy for the ordering seems to be to screw things down in groups of two. Each screw on the left side has a mirrored screw on the right side. The official order is to do the left screw, and then the right screw for each pair. The pairs are ordered in a manner such that they start in the middle (vertically) and gradually branch out, with the last screws being those in the far corners. Hopefully that clears up the ordering a little without being to look at a visual map.

Perhaps it would be beneficial for the Framework team to add braille indents the the chassis for a future revision, it’s certainly thin enough for it… or offer them as an optional addon where someone manually indents it for that unit.

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