Surviving

Feeling the warmth of the sun on a cloudy day. A glimpse into a blind billy goat's unique, ever changing perspectives.

2017 06 14 Journal Excerpt: Page 28 June 14, 2017

The ability to use my computer is such a big part of my life. It has been since 1995 really, and although a lot has changed since then, it has continued to be something that I rely on to stay in touch with people, and also to continue to discover a world of writing that has opened my eyes to so many new things, both about me, and around me.

I can’t imagine where I’ll be 20 years from now, but I know for a fact that there’s only one way to find out.

What? You don’t know? You want to know?

You better get moving then. Grin

Deon

***

I was introduced to Mike Adams in mid December, 2011. He was to be my new assistive technology tutor. It seems that Steve Sawczyn had landed a huge opportunity with Target. He was hired to revamp their website structure, making it more accessible to the visually impaired community. Their headquarters is out in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and he was traveling back and forth throughout the winter months, and has since moved out to the area permanently. I did feel a little let down when I heard the news that he would no longer be my pc tutor, but Mike stepped in and restored my sense of direction as far as my computer skills was concerned.

I was still using System Access back in December, and Mike instantly told me that he thought I would be better off with Jaws, than System Access.

Back when I was at the Center, I had a meeting with the head of the Technology Department, when it was thought that I would be returning sometime in early 2011 for an extensive course on office skills. I was told back then that I would probably be the only one in the program that would be using the system access screen reader. It was just not common place like Jaws, and I would have to have a separate instructional program designed around my screen reader. I was not comfortable with this option back then, and I was very anxious when Mike Adams told me that I had the option of switching over to the Jaws Screen Reader program. I gladly said that I would really like to switch over, so the order was put in motion, and I started the waiting game.

I never did get to go to the office skills program at the center, as I was told that it would probably be just as good for me to receive home tutoring through the division, instead of through the Carroll Center.

I think back now, and wish I would have had the chance to go to the program in Newton. At the time, I really did not want to leave home again for a long period, as I did in the fall. It would have still been winter, and I could not consciously leave in a good frame of mind knowing that the snow and all that goes along with winter could pose all kinds of problems for Lynne while I was gone.

That bothered me to no end.

So it was decided that I would stick with the home tutoring in the meantime. I was told that I would be just as well off with the training at home, as I would be taught the same platforms, and it should be just as extensive a program as the Carroll Center’s would have been.

Looking back, I know for a fact that I didn’t receive anywhere near the same intense training that I would have gotten in Mass, and am reluctant to think that I am just as well off today without it, and with the training that I did receive here at home.

One thing is for sure, I didn’t receive any substantial pc skills training while enrolled in the center’s independent living program, and I was very disappointed with this. One of the things I figured was that at the least, I would come home with some acquired assistive technology skills that I could continue to build on. Fact is, other than practicing touch typing, there was no real pc teaching, which left me scratching my head. I know that the office skills program would have done great things with my pc skills, but my expetations going into the 8 week program were let down completely in this respect.

Through my time with him, Mike taught me Windows, JAWS, MS Office programs, Windows Explorer and the internet. One thing about assistive technology, it changes every day, as does the accessibility of everything it comes in contact with. What works today might not work tomorrow, and vice – versa. If you think you have it figured out, wait a minute and you’ll figure out that you were wrong, or they were wrong, or it was wrong, or everything is horribly wrong and they’re all out to get you.

Really though, it feels like that some days, as the learning never ends, even though you don’t feel like learning on that particular day.

Mike and I figured out a few things, worked through a few things, made notes on a few things, and through it all, a brand new world introduced itself to me. Was I ready for this new thing? This was, strangely so, the same thing that I had loved to do, back when my eyes worked. This was the same thing that I played with, figured with, fought with, had fun with and missed greatly. Having to learn it all over again from a new perspective sort of pissed me off. Matter of fact, it really pissed me off to no end! Still does some days, but it is what it is.

I just got one of my random, out of the blue, wildly illustrated mental images of a pair of white gloved cartoon hands reaching down and typing on the keypad. Strange? You betcha. These mental snapshots and quick vids have been happening a lot these past couple months. Looney Toons gone horribly astray.

Anyway, I’m back.

Where were we? Oh ya. Mike Adams.

Mike and I worked together through the fall of 2011, and into early winter. At the end of this learning stretch, Mike told me during one meeting that he figured he had taught me all that he could, and there was really no reason to continue the lessons. I felt a little confused with his comments, mainly because I felt in no way as if I was ready to go tackle the digital world on my own. Fact is, it really scared me to think that I wouldn’t have him coming every two weeks to iron out the problems I had come across with using digital access.

That was one of those moments where I wanted to change what was happening, but it was out of my control.

Learn and live, or was it live and learn? I wasn’t sure, but I moved on none the less.

To be continued…

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