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Saturday, July 14, 2012

Adventures in computer training #3

Blurb: Learning to use assistive technology is not so easy. The
key is to stay calm and keep on trying.

Once again, I returned to the Cleveland Sight Center for another
training session. My trainer is blind and has a Seeing-Eye dog.
Before we started our work, I got to meet Butch. He's a big
German Shepherd who likes to lick people. I couldn't help but
enjoy that.

We began with a quiz over the Jaws functions of the number pad. I
still had to visualize the calculator set-up before I could
answer. However I did get them all correct. On that positive
note, we started something new.

My trainer created a Word document with many mistakes. I had to
insert, delete and highlight words. It wasn't as easy as it
sounds. I managed insert, but delete and highlight were giving me

It's important to understand that the keyboard on my Braillenote
is much smaller than a standard Windows keyboard. There are five
rows of 14 keys. It doesn't have function keys or caps lock or a
calculator pad or the "six pack" of keys. The shift keys and
arrow keys are in different places. The Braillenote has a few
keys that are unique to the machine. I warned my trainer that
adjusting to a Windows keyboard would be a challenge.

First, I couldn't even find the delete key. Aren't there a bunch
of keys that delete? I was looking for back space, like on my
braillenote. After a bit of frustration, my trainer told me I
needed to use the delete key on the number pad. It's to the right
of zero.

Highlighting was even worse. I tried about ten times to highlight
the word "cow." It just wouldn't work. Yes, I understood I needed
to press control, shift and the right arrow key together. Nothing

My trainer gave it a try, and it worked for him. He told me to
keep working at it. I was stuck on something so simple. I didn't
want to try again. It wouldn't work!

It was one of my interpreters who discovered the problem. I was
pressing the caps lock instead of shift. Darn that keyboard! My
trainer promised that he would mark the shift keys before my next

Once I could highlight a word, he showed me the commands to
highlight lines, paragraphs and the whole document. I got off
track again. The command was to highlight a line from where the
cursor was to the net line, stopping under the location of the
cursor. That's a little hard to put into words. I actually
understood, but when I repeated it back, he said, "no." He
explained this many different ways. Nothing made sense to me.
Again, interpreter to the rescue! She mapped it out on my hand,
and I was able to "see" what the command did. I was right the
first time. The confusion had to do with describing it in words.

I have no doubt that a blind trainer can successfully teach me
how to use a computer. Yet, it's crucial to have my two
interpreters there. I'm not blind. I'm deaf-blind. The
interpreters help bridge the communication gap. Sometimes they
can explain things in a way that a deaf person will best

My trainer told me to practice these new commands for my
homework. Uh-Oh... I don't even know how to turn my computer on
and off yet. Well, I said that I did remember how to start the
computer and get into Word. My trainer just had to take me
through shutting down. As he did this, I realized the commands
were different. I am used to Windows XP. My new computer uses
Windows 7.

I asked if starting up is the same as with my old computer. He
indicated that it is not, but my driver arrived at that moment. I
never found out how to start the computer and create a Word
document. How am I supposed to do my homework? It's a moot point,
because my father still has not set up the computer. I'm feeling
nervous about my next training session.

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