By Katherine Ledger.
A practical guide to help people overcome barriers to using IT and live an independent life, inexpensively, has been published by the Royal Association for Disability Rights (RADAR), the UK’s leading pan-disability organisation. ‘Doing IT Differently: Enabling everyone to use computer and information technology’ is sponsored by the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (now the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills), AbilityNet, Microlink and the Information Technologists Company.
Part of a series of self-help publications called Doing Life Differently, the booklet is for everybody at all levels of experience and ages who has problems accessing IT, so it is totally inclusive. It guides the reader through a host of jargon on how to choose and use personal computers, desktops, laptops, mobile phones, smartphones and TVs.
Mastering IT can help you improve job prospects, access training and education, shop, bank, save money, communicate with friends, have fun and be more independent.
Tony, 35, is one of several people with disabilities in our book who tells his story about how IT has helped him. “I have a genetic condition which means my sight is steadily worsening. These days I really can’t see anything at all. But I knew this was coming and learned to touch type in my teens. Over the years I’ve gone through every stage of the adaptation process. I began with changes of colour, character size, font choices and so on, using built-in options. Then I got an electronic magnifier so that I could use printed text and books in my studies and early work. Then I moved to a software magnification package with some output speech. Then, when my sight was no longer practical or efficient but was still possible, I moved to a screen reader. What do I do? I work as an IT consultant. Yes, deteriorating conditions can be handled efficiently these days.
“I do most of my work remotely so I’m pretty sure that most of my contacts and customers – those who have not met my guide dog anyway – have no idea that I’m blind.”
Joan, 73, similarly overcame her fear of computers. “The trouble was that I was scared to touch it, in case I did something wrong and you can’t ever learn anything without actually practising it. Going to a course at the local library really helped. I learned a lot but the main lesson I learned was that it is very difficult to do something seriously wrong. You can ‘undo’ or revert to the last version you saved.”
Liz Sayce, RADAR CEO, says: “There is no advice more useful than the tips that come from others who have trod the same road before. Whether it’s getting or keeping a job, managing your money or getting online, doing life differently because of ill-health, injury or disability doesn’t mean doing it less well.”
NOTE: This book and others in the series can be ordered at:
or call 0207 250 3222. For bulk discounts contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
Nominate a person or organisation you think is worthy of a ‘Doing IT Differently’ award at RADAR’s People of the Year Awards, for those who have made a difference to disability equality, at: www.radar.org.uk/awards-2009 .