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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tech Woes

Technology is a wonderful thing for people with disabilities. It gives us better access to the world we live in. Technology can put us on an equal level as people who are not disabled. It gives us more opportunities and better chances for jobs, schooling, recreation and much more. We depend on adaptive technology to get through each and every day. That dependence can lead to disaster when vital equipment breaks down.

I am currently in a state of major technological crisis. I rely on my Braille Note M Power (BN) for communication needs and access to information. I read books and the daily newspaper on my BN. I use it to write school papers, record answers to quizzes and read class handouts. Email is my primary method of communicating with people around me. I have many friends who send me emails and I belong to several mailing lists and online groups. I receive emails from my instructor, interpreters, Accessibility Services office, other ASL students and my son's teacher. My father, who doesn't sign, uses email as a way to communicate with me each day. If we have something to talk about, we do it via email. Simply put - email is a way of life for me.

I'm afraid I only have myself to blame for this one. It is always so much worse when your own stupid actions is what caused the problem. One day my foot got tangled in the BN power cord when I stood up after reading emails. I tripped over the cord and fell to the ground. My BN was knocked around a bit. Both ends of the power cord were roughly pulled out of position.

That was two months ago. I've been fighting with the machine ever since. It's very hard to get it to charge. The AC adapter won't stay on. I have to watch it closely when charging. It won't charge when the machine is turned off. Oddly enough, even when it's off, the machine goes through commands and menus if I leave it plugged in. That can be a real problem sometimes. I don't like my technology doing it's own thing.

I tried ordering a new AC adaptor. Due to repeated mistakes, it took many weeks before the new cord arrived. Unfortunately, it didn't solve the problem. The damage is inside of the BN. This means it has to be sent back to the company for repairs. That usually takes at least a month.

I've been stalling. I need my BN in order to finish the semester. I was hoping to make it until Mid-May on this machine. In the mean time, I'm also trying to learn to use my new computer as quickly as possible so I'll have something to use while my BN is gone.

The battle with the power cord has been long and frustrating. It looked like I would make it, however. So then what happens? My wireless network card up and died on me this week. All this time I've been focusing on one problem when something else suddenly sneaks up and cuts me off. It's not fair. The BN still works but I can't access email or internet at all.

I believe my wireless card is damaged. Humanware is sending a new card. If I'm lucky, that will solve my network issues and I'll be back online within a few weeks. If it doesn't work, then my machine will need to go back for repairs immediately. Either way, it has to go to the shop. I'm still hoping to wait another month to send it in.

Humanware sent me a loaner BN to use. This is an older Braille Note known as a Classic. I may or may not be able to do email on the Classic. It doesn't matter now. The Classic won't turn on. It's a dead as a rotten log. It might serve as a useful paper weight, but that's about it.

Ready or not, I have to rely on my computer now. I am learning as fast as I can. I can do basic email but that's all. I don't even know how to use Word yet. I have no idea how I'm going to make it through the semester if this continues. I'm very stressed right now.

You know the old saying. When it rains, it pours. My brand new pocket watch is also broken. I was so happy to have this watch. Everybody needs a watch. Because of nerve damage, a wrist watch is too irritating for me to wear. I was excited when I learned I could get a braille pocket watch.

My state DB trainer helped me buy the watch. She put it on her credit card and I mailed her a check. It cost $160 for the watch and chain. I never did get the chain. it was back ordered. It's been several months now and still no chain. I don't know what's taking so long.

After just one month, my watched stopped working. A new battery seemed to fix the problem. We assumed that maybe the watch had been on a shelf for a long time and the battery was worn out. No big deal.

Just one month later, the watch stopped working again. The jeweler tested the battery and it was still good. But the watch would not work. He put in another new battery. The watch started again, but stopped after only half an hour.

I must have a defective watch. We need to send it back. There's a problem, though. I don't have the paper work that came with the watch. My DB trainer kept that information. Now she's not answering my emails. did I just waste all that money for nothing?

Technology.... You love it so much. You depend on it for everything. You can't live without it... and then it breaks. You're left wanting to kick and scream and cry. At least that's what i'm feeling right now. I want my BN back in working condition. I want my email. I want my watch. Calgon, take me away!

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