Disk read error: can stuff be recovered?

I have a relative. Yes, it’s a relative. Anyway, apparently her hard drive is down. She gets the “disk read error” when she boots up. She also did not back up any of her photos.
Is that something that your various brick and mortar computer tech places handle? Or is she just SOL?

Take the drive out and install it as a second drive in another machine. No, wait, give her the backup lecture first. It sounds like she can’t boot, but that might not affect readability of files.

If there’s still a disk read error when you try to get the files off the drive via another machine, use the wonderful little app TestDisk to recover what she needs.

It took me a little while to figure out how to use the app (the directions seem to be written by someone who’s first language isn’t English and/or is a programmer who doesn’t speak layman) but boy did it work well. You can also Google around to see if anyone has put up a tutorial for what you need to do.