Linda is an older blind client in her seventies living with Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) and age related macular degeneration (AMD). Linda lives alone in a condo in a 55 and older community. She stated that she never realized how often she got help from others until it was no longer available. Due to COVID-19, no one was allowed in her condo except for authorized staff. She stated that she seems to spend the majority of her day looking for things she misplaced. She also reported having a very difficult time checking emails, voice mails, text messages and ordering groceries on line as she can no longer read print of any kind. She came to the realization that reading is a thing of the past. She stated “if I’m going to live on my own, I’m going to have to figure out how to get things done on my own”. Linda told me this about a year ago and since then no one I know has worked harder to learn how to independently do those things others once did for her.
Linda has been regularly attending individual assistive technology classes to learn how to use an iPhone and a PC using speech output software. She is completely dependent on speech output software as she cannot see to read the screen. Linda has also been using a talking typing program to learn how to touch type as everything she does on a computer will be done with the keyboard. Using the mouse to point and click is no longer an option.
A year ago, Linda knew of voiceover, Apple’s speech output program. However, she had no idea how to use it. She could navigate her iPhone using SIRI, but that can only do so much. She is now able to read and delete email messages and open and add a contact card from a text message and add it to her phone contacts. She can use voiceover to navigate her phone app making it possible to read and delete voice messages and scroll through her contacts and recent call list. She has recently joined the book club as she can navigate the bard mobile app to move a book from the book shelf and add it to the now reading screen. She can play, pause, fast forward and rewind an audio book using voiceover. She stated that she wishes she would have learned how to use voiceover a long time ago as she loves to read, and audio books once again make that possible.
Linda’s goal is not just to learn how to use an iPhone. She is also learning how to navigate a computer using a speech output software called JAWS. JAWS allows Linda to Navigate her computer without ever touching the mouse. I dare anyone reading this to try that at home. Good luck with that. Linda is now able to access her email and favorite websites. Her ultimate goal is to once again be able to independently shop online.
Linda’s recent accomplishments make her even more determined to succeed. Her resiliency and hard work make it possible for her to once again do the things that bring her happiness and make her much more independent. More importantly, this past year has given Linda the confidence to continue reaching goals she once thought unreachable.