The Difference Technology Makes to the Disabled

When I opened my eyes this morning I knew I was in for a tough day where pain is concerned.  Instead of taking the usual hour to get up I had to take extra time as my hands wouldn’t work too well.  Of course I study at university on Tuesday afternoons and evenings, with a couple of hours break in between.  For me, Disabled Student’s Allowance has made a huge difference to my capability to study and pass my modules.  I have been provided with equipment which allows me to record lectures – a great tool when I can’t write a note to save myself.  Also there are various programs available to me on my computer which assist me as I go about writing documents, emails and other things.  Assistive Technology means I don’t have to type, instead I can speak into a program and most of the time the computer understands what I am saying and types it in.

With various other programs there is the option of having lectures transcribed into text, documents read out to me, stuff scanned into the computer can be changed through software which recognises characters.  In fact I don’t know where I would be without all these tools.  At University I also get a specialised chair which makes sitting down less painful than it would otherwise be.  Every piece of equipment, software and support I receive has been vital to my success so far.  In this next semester I can face all knowing that I have the tools I need to study, so hopefully I can pass my exams.  I wonder if they could give me a better brain…….

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Computing And Disability

Around eleven years ago I thought my life had as good as ended.  My Doctor had finally informed me that my back condition was not about to improve, in fact if anything it would deteriorate.  I was to prepare myself for a life of pain, medication and disability.  Shuffling around with the aid of two sticks I had to admit that the possibility of me being able to return to any job full time was totally unrealistic, but I didn’t really want to face the alternative – a lifetime on benefits.  Little did I know then that computers would open up possibilities to me that I couldn’t even think of.  I knew about Microsoft products and had used Microsoft Office to great effect for a few years, I also understood the basics of computer maintenance and could set up a computer system if I needed to.  However, I was not comfortable with much other than emails and doing web searches on the internet.

Voluntary work at the church I attended provided me with opportunities to update the website and learn web design “on the job”.  My Pastor – David Simpson – encouraged me to go to a night class on Web Development at Bell College in Hamilton to help me with my new role.  Once I had successfully completed the night class, I went on to study and succeed in gaining an HNC in Computing on a part time basis from Bell College.  Changes took place during my HNC years and Bell College merged with Paisley University to become the Hamilton Campus of University of the West of Scotland.  My original plan to continue studying an HND in Computing, also part time, changed to me studying a degree in Computer Networking on a part time basis.  I am currently at the beginning of my final year of part time study for the degree and must admit that I never thought I would ever have the confidence to research and set up all that I have done in these past few years.

To let you understand, many people have prayed and continue to pray for my healing, though I continue to suffer constantly with medication helping me to remain somewhat mobile.  However, the ironic thing is that even through my disability I find a whole new world has opened up before me through computing.  My life didn’t end when I thought it had all those years ago, in fact if anything it began!!!