iPad Lessons and a Computer Upgrade for Wes

Wes is 67 years old. He stays active dragon boating (new window) twice a week. He’s accomplished, having won a couple of gold medals with his team, and hopes to compete in Hungary soon.

He is visually impaired.

Wes first began having vision problems about 10 years ago when he had cracked the retina in his left eye. Though doctors were able to repair it, a year later, he had a hole in his right retina. In his recovery from surgery, the retina detached (new window).

“When they put that back in, it didn’t attach properly, so I lost the vision in my right eye, and then, my left eye, because I have the other issue, it got a macular degeneration (new window) on it, so I can’t see very well [out of it],” he explains.

His sight was further hampered by a cataract (new window) and glaucoma (new window).

“I can’t do what I would before, like when I had my vision, I could drive, I could read the newspaper, go to work, stuff like that,” Wes says.

However, he still wanted to stay active. He learned how to use ZoomText (new window) software on his PC (new window), so he could continue doing bookkeeping for his dragon boat team, and other general tasks on his computer.

After time, though, his ZoomText software went out of date, making it difficult for him to do anything.

“I was using Excel (new window) spreadsheet, using ZoomText, and it was giving me audio feedback, like if I was hitting the ‘a’ key it said ‘a’,” he explains. “Then all of a sudden, for some strange reason, my ZoomText didn’t work anymore, everytime I hit it, it said, ‘n’. I didn’t know where the heck I was.”

Initially, he switched to using an iPad (new window), which he had received for free with a bank offer, using its Voiceover (new window) function. However, he had difficulties learning how to use it, and the in-store lessons were difficult for him.

It “was in a big, open [environment and] you just sit in the middle and there’s all sort of noise around you, so it was hard to concentrate,” Wes shares.

Upon hearing about a friend’s success, Wes decided to check out the Neil Squire Society’s Computer Comfort program at the Burnaby, British Columbia office. Immediately, he noticed a difference.

“The ones I went to [before] were more of a group [sessions], like three or four people,” he says. “Here, it’s a lot better, I get one-on-one [tutoring] if I have to. With ZoomText, I can put the headphone on, so it’s not disturbing anybody, and then even when I do the Voiceover with the iPad, I can put on my headphones and it’s not disturbing anybody in that room.

“They help me with what I’m having issues with.”

In addition to helping him learn how to use his iPad, the Computer Comfort team upgraded his version of ZoomText, and upgraded his computer so that it would have the memory to handle the program.

He describes his experience with the Neil Squire Society as “very positive, very helpful,” and would “definitely” recommend the Computer Comfort program.

“I’ve had about four different interns helping, and they’ve all been very, very good. Very patient with me, because I probably ask them the same thing two, three, four times,” Wes shares. “Munesh [Raman, program coordinator] is really good because he is very helpful, and he is exceptionally patient. And they’re all like that, I find them very helpful. They bend over backwards to try to help you.”

Wes sees a marked improvement in his computer literacy.

“I’m not nearly as confused as I was, in terms of technology, because I was getting quite frustrated, to be honest, trying to figure out what did I do wrong, is there something wrong or am I just missing something?” he explains. “Especially when I was using the older version of my ZoomText, I was getting really frustrated trying to figure out what was going on, and I got so frustrated I almost threw it away.

“[Now], everytime I see someone struggle I tell them to go to Neil Squire,” he continues. “If you’re technologically challenged, don’t be afraid to call the Neil Squire Society, and get help.”