The Ups and Downs of Computers

Esther SmithI had a computer for several years, but had not tried to use it, always thinking that, with my vision loss, it would be out of the question. But my friends, family, and colleagues at AFB kept encouraging me to try it. Besides, I preach determination to other people, always telling them to repeat, “I can do this.” It was time to take my own advice. I started out by testing a trial version of a program called Guide, from EVAS, to use email. I have learned terms that I had never heard of before, like “DSL,” “virus,” “hard drive crash,” and “reboot.” With Guide, I found I can communicate with my family members all at once through email, instead of making individual phone calls, only to find them not at home. The program enables my computer to talk to me and walk me step by step through writing and sending an email and then getting emails in return! This is fun—I can do this! Yes, Guide talks to you. It will not only walk you through email or typing a letter, but also allow you to (and here’s another new term) “surf” the Internet. But you need to be familiar with the keyboard and mark the “home” keys and other keys that Guide uses consistently, such as the “enter” key. Guide even has a typing practice program, which I used since I had not typed for 15 years. I can do this! This experience has been a good illustration of “the little engine that could.” Although I have had lots of problems during my journey, I really enjoy getting an email, and, best of all, being able to correspond with friends and family all over the country without having to rely on someone else. Determination to use the computer has given me an entry into the 21st century and even my “cool” grandchildren say, “Go, grams!” when they send emails to me and even pictures of my great grandchildren to me! I can do this! I encourage you to try to use the computer, but first, I recommend that you find technology experts or instructors in your area who can help determine the best type of screen reading or screen magnification software for you. Start your search at the Services Directory. Guide is only one of the many programs available, and you can read more about it and similar programs in AccessWorld. But most importantly, if this is something you really want to do, don’t give up, and don’t be discouraged. Getting your first email and responding will really open up your life again—to family and friends all over the country and the world! I did this!!! You can too. Esther