My dear 85-year-old mom is caught up with this week in doing battle with Technology.
She bought a new computer and her kids bought her a new, higher resolution, flat screen, big bad monitor that we hope will help her with her failing eyesight.
I have to admire those my mom’s age who are brave enough to tackle technology (and yes, Verna, I’m including you!) It’s scary enough to have to face all the bells and whistles and foreign concepts that go along with cell phones and satellite technology and new operating systems. But to face it when you’re visually impaired like my ma and have no computer geek husband (my personal saving grace) to help you figure it out is beyond brave.
My mom knows the value of today’s technology, just as she knows the miracle of modern medicine (she’d be blind now if born 10 years earlier). Technology helped her reach this dream of becoming a published author. Of course, it’s also been the cause of many an afternoon of frustration such as a recent few hours spent trying to figure out how she’d turned her work upside down. And I mean that literally: her monitor showed a view that was flipped 180 degrees!
But thank goodness now for a free program my brother Mark found called NVDA (http://www.nvda-project.org/). It talks her through the commands on her computer and reads back what she types. And we’ve just discovered that Microsoft Windows has an access center provided with most computers that has a narrative aid (it reads the screen) and a magnifier. My sister in law Cindy also bought me Dragon Speak for Home, which allows you to dictate instead of type and works amazingly well.
However, having these wonderful technology tools available is one small step in the stupendously large task of learning how to use them. I am no great computer whiz myself, and I see just fine. But I can tell you that after playing with all of these in an attempt to set them up so that mom could get started just about drove me completely bonkers.
So we’ll check in with Sharon in a week or two and see if she still has her sanity as she tries to slay the friendly dragon.
Genilee Swope Parente
P.S. We will be at Potomac Woods Apartments, 2001 Southampton Street, Woodbridge, VA 22191 Wednesday, March 20 at 11, and they have kindly invited the general public. Come see us, buy a book, get a book signed or just chat. We’ll be at Stafford Garden Apartments for a signing tomorrow at 1:30.
Genilee Swope Parente