After reading the letter which came through my door on the 27th March, there’s been a feeling of a bereavement, a loss of friends. The charity with the motto ‘Behind a computer everyone is equal’ was being liquidated after 21 years; YT had 7 years of working with 38 learners. Now there is doubt in my mind as to where physically disabled people can get some home based assistance and training, not aware of any SE London organisations that bridge this gap, nor do some of the larger charities either.
After wondering what to do with the remaining two learners with five lessons between them, it looked like the remaining sessions needed to be claimed for, which sounded awkward and long winded. YT then made a decision based on the potential outcomes of one hour’s support. One learner had not improved in months, the other dedicated and motivated. Not much would happen with the learner that was just not getting it. Commitment won.
Walking into the learner’s dining room the keyboard tutor in the Guide software was on screen, proving that the menu selections had been remembered. A great start to the situation, as the system is just that; menu options with a verbal report. Keyboard training had been the core requirement for the learner, and she had been eager to learn something completely new. Guide made processes much more understandable, untangled and thought through. YT had received an email from the lady saying ‘Hi Paul’ only a few days after a lesson introducing email. A real boost for both of us. It must be said that both the computer and the Guide software had been purchased for the learner by UCDIT; as someone said to me – “It’s expensive being blind”. Guide alone cost £500.
The final hour of support was to be about getting onto a website, and using the text only browser included in the system (simpler to use than WebbIE, which is also a good piece of software). Its always useful in my experience to talk about the internet like a big never-ending city reflecting all of the aspects of society: local/national Government, business and commerce of all sizes, dubious back streets, seedy environments etc. The good, useful, not so useful and not so good. This conversation is always useful to prime the person to grasp what the addresses are for, and how basic navigation is achieved, but then if you got to this page, did you use a search engine, address bar in the browser (what’s a browser?) or click a link? Those three avenues to finding a piece of information is just the start – then there is the task of assessment and understanding the transactions of information…we didn’t go that far, looking up the Dynasty soap opera and Drew Barrymore’s Wikipedia pages. Always enjoyable to train an eager learner, no matter what the situation is.
Left the situation after a good chat with the learner and her Blind Aid worker, which was upbeat and filled with laughter. Soon to be adding to the learner’s knowledge as she can hear my emails (ableit in a different voice), as an optimal legacy of what is possible with the right tools and the right motivation.
My hope now is to pursue a personal and professional goal of my own, which had been constantly touted to the UCDIT team – digital drop ins for physically disabled people which can facilitate social and sociable outcomes. If YT can’t get to the house, then my hope is for people to get out and come along to a community space. Up in Mycenae House, there are projects a-brewing.