Every Thursday you will find me at the local TAFE at the Computer Café. It is a small area off the library comprising of computers with adaptive equipment for people with disabilities. The classes are small, offering a high level of support in a compassionate and understanding environment.
Keeping the brain active
Margaret is in her second year of learning about computers and what they can do.
I have lost so much vision that I find many of the things I used to do, I can no longer cope with, she says.
It is also difficult for me to get out and about. But I wanted something to do. And I really needed to do something to keep my brain active.
When I first started, I didn’t even know where the keys were on the computer. I can now write stories, send emails and search the internet. I have also set up a database with phone numbers and addresses. And I have a voice program read everything out to me.
Margaret says she has many future plans involving computers.
One is using the internet to shop. And I also want to learn to use Facebook.
Learning more and more
Wendy is quite new to the world of vision loss. At first she thought there was very little she would be able to do. But after joining the computer class, her confidence has soared.
I had touch-typing skills to begin with and so the transition to computer hasn’t been too taxing. However, I am amazed at what I am learning computer-wise. It has made me want to learn more and more. Not only that, it has really boosted my confidence and self-esteem. And I now realise that vision loss is not the end of the world.
Wendy also believes that using this technology is the way to go. She says,
It sure opens many doors to many areas.
Contact with others
Mike has both vision and hearing loss and agrees with both Margaret and Wendy.
This course has unlocked a whole new world for me, he says.
The information available through the internet is amazing. And the computer-adaptive technology allows me to access most things.
Mike also likes the contact with the other students who have similar challenges.
The interaction with others has taught me so much, especially in the areas of adaptive equipment. The other important thing I have learnt is where there’s a will there’s a way.
Our computer class is actually a self-help group as well, says Mike.
We’ve all become good friends. And the contact offers a great level of support and encouragement.
Each student in this program has a similar story of growth and enhancement.
The Computer Café has changed the lives of many people with disabilities for the better. Before this program, many people with disabilities thought learning about computers wouldn’t be possible. But through this course, not only are people learning, but also increasing their prospects and enhancing their lives. Computer Café has provided equal opportunities for students to further their skills. And in doing so, has restored the self-esteem and confidence of many.