The last weekend of May is here, and I’m curious as to where all of the May days went. Boy oh boy how the time has a way of slipping away on ya.
On this Memorial Day, I hope you all carry those memories nearest to your hearts with you through today, and the rest of your life. God bless you all.
Written May 30, 2011. Describing August 2010.
We will all miss you Aunt Jetta. Heaven reclaimed one of it’s angels. May god touch your soul, as you have touched ours.
I thank god that I have piece of mind to capture some of my thoughts, emotions and experiences on paper. I am very fortunate to have recaptured my love of writing. I have walked away from the evident for many years. Years that I will only be able to relive in my mind, and in type. I can not afford to ever forget how fortunate I am in that regard.
I started slowly with my computer rebirth. I was scared as hell and was convinced that I had so much work in front of me if I was ever going to be able to rely on my pc in the future as I had done in the past. The pc had always been a friend of mine, that is after I worked past the fear of computers way back in 1995. it had become a companion whom I could always count on, except for those times when a hard drive reformat was necessary. I had loved doing my digital multimedia and I felt as though I would never be able to get it back. This screen reader stuff seemed so outer body to me. I felt like a new born baby when I sat in front of the computer screen for the first time. I did not know what to do. I did not know what to think. I did not know how to type. I did not know how to email. The only thing I was sure of was how much I did not know. That fact alone was enough to scare the hell out of me and send me running for the hills. That fact alone was enough to make me want to sell my pc and never think of it again. It had been after all a month or better since I had even sat in front of the keypad, and it was sending my mind into a thousand different directions, all of them being pulled against each other.
I saw the savvy that Steve Sawczyn had and I was jealous of him. I almost hated him and all of his knowledge. I hated him for being blind his whole life and being able to have come so far. I wanted to have what he had, but I knew that I had a very winding road ahead of me in order to get there. A very winding road indeed.
He did manage to get me set up with my first screen reader that day. He thought I would be more suited to use System Access to get started. He knew that the email client was more accessible than anything with Jaws would be. My main goal right then was to get my feet wet and progress from there.
Lynne was enamored with Steve. She was just so intrigued at how pc literate he was. She had a ton of questions for him, and I tried to take it all in. I just couldn’t. As soon as all this information entered my drenched brain, it leaked out my ears. I was just saturated with everything, and I was awestruck that this huge event was smack \dab in front of me. I was happy and overwhelmed at the same time.
When Steve left our house that day it was like a digital tornado had come through and left in the same breath. I was left staring at my pc screen in total amazement, and a little dumbfounded that he would leave me with all of this new tension and frustration and anxiety. Didn’t he know that I was blind? Didn’t he know that no one on the face of the earth was in as much turmoil as I was? Couldn’t he have seen the look of sheer terror on my face? Or was he blind too?
He was indeed blind. He was indeed fully aware of everything that I was going through though, and he knew that I would be ok. He knew it the same way that Leona knew it. He knew that when left of my own devices, I would figure it out. He knew that I had it in me to get through today so that tomorrow I could start on it again.
I did get through that day, and the next, and the next. I can remember the first email that I tried sending Leona. It was an audio file message. I sent an audio file because I didn’t think I could figure out how to send her a text message. I sit here now writing this and I can remember the feelings so well of what that was like, and I don’t want to ever forget it. I want to remember how I felt then compared to how I feel right now as I write so much faster than I ever would have imagined possible. It’s truly amazing to me how much I have learned, and how fast I have done it. Lots of work. Lots and lots of work, Lots of trials and errors. yes, the errors. It seems like I had spent half the time spell checking.
I did manage to progress through the month of August and in to September. I learned to type with the help of a program called Talking Typing Tutor. This program taught me how to touch type. I went from a 4 fingered hunt and pecker to a full fledged touch typist. I knew where all of the letters were, I just didn’t know which fingers to go after them with.
With the help of System Access’ online community and SamNet, I quickly found how to surf the web with assistance of a web service designed to be totally accessible. I could check my local paper, listen to descriptive movies, listen to podcasts and audio files that were geared for the blind community. There was so much information on this service and it was all a key stroke away.
I soon found out that the screen reader software I was using was not the industry standard. The industry standard was a program called JAWS, (Job Access With Speech), and as soon as I heard the name, I wanted more. Steve did try to install a demo version of it when he initially got me set up, but the demo was not fully functional and I really needed a fully functional one so that I could quickly gobble up everything that I could.
To Be Continued…