iPad for us?

I have now used a wi-fi iPad for a few months but, I hasten to add, I have not investigated its full potential as yet. My son helped to set up my e-mail, install the weather app, showed me how to take photos and look at them using the zoom function and, most importantly of all(!?), how I could play Rumble or Ruzzle as it is now called. Ruzzle has taken up MANY hours of fun, time-wasting entertainment time for me but now I plan to make full use of my new buddy, Paddan.

For those of you not familiar with Ruzzle, it is a 16 letter matrix word game similar to Scrabble where the aim is to challenge/invite friends to find as many words as you can in the allotted two minutes. Three 2-minute rounds make up one game. When I began playing, I was useless … the time aspect added to the stress and my fingers did not do what my brain wanted them to do and I did not “see” the possible words! On my “bad eye” days I often mistake O for D or C for O etc. Playing many practise games before challenging “real” players helped a lot and now I win more of the games. I find I usually have a lot more shorter words as it is harder for me to get an overview of the full 16 letter matrix holding the iPad quite close to my eyes. I usually concentrate on a 4 letter corner at a time and find as many words as I can before moving on to the next corner … so I tend to win by the amount of shorter words rather than on the number of letters in longer words. I also found that Ruzzle uses a very strange dictionary with many “made up” words as well as not accepting “real” words! OK, that is enough of Ruzzle for now!

So, my quest to learn about more features hidden in Paddan …. Apple describes the accessibility Vision adaptations that are available and useful to those of us with Stargardt’s (or any visual impairment) very clearly.

I have not yet tested/used the voice over function, tending to hold up Paddan closer to my eyes instead. However, this tends to give me “Pad arm ache” as my bubby Paddan is no feather-weight! I also find my nose unknowingly “presses” on some link/icon and takes me somewhere I do not wish to be! I will test the Voice Over and tell you in a later post how I have found it. In the meantime, I will also surf, read and gather links relating to the iPad and the visually impaired and include them on future posts under the Technology category.

It would be good to hear from any other visitors to stargardts.net who also like their iPad and who would like to share iPad tips and tricks.

Choice of job/career

When you have Stargardt’s Disease, choosing a career can be a challenge and, at the same time, a frustration. From day one I wanted to be a teacher but was not able to get into Teachers’ training college way back then as they said my poor vision would make the studying at college too difficult for me. This, I hasten to add, was pre-computers and the onset of the adaptive equipment era :) In later years, I often wonder how I would have coped with a career in teaching; not even being able to see the facial expressions of the kids in the front row of desks and having great difficulty in seeing the actual kids in the back row of the class, managing to read and mark books/tests, reading out of a book to the kids, taking more time than norm to prepare for lessons, coping with the group on school outings, the administrative paperwork that is also connected to teaching these days etc. There are those of us who can overcome all odds and pursue their dream career … but I was not one of them.

Part-time work for me as a teenager was limited … using a cash register in a shop/restaurant etc. was impossible with the vision I had, let alone being able to see price tags. Any service job involving eye contact was also out of the question! So, how did I earn money as a teenager …. delivering newspapers, babysitting as well as housework for the families where I babysat. The families understood that I could always see their kids … but maybe could not see Junior’s runny nose from across a large room!

So, I did not pursue my dream career but what did I do? First I took a job at a children’s home thinking that I still wanted to work with children …. but, after 6 months of very long hours and few weekends off tending to 14 kids of varying ages, I felt like I had been forced to become a Mum earlier than I had intended! I then went through some office/administration jobs (always making small adjustments, for example, changing small text labels to large print labels) but then the offer of going to the RNIB Commercial Training College in London came up. I could go to this residential college for 6 months and learn to become a certified audio typist/secretary. After that, I then worked in London as a secretary with all levels of management. I had a fulfilling job but enough energy left to enjoy London’s nightlife in my 20s!

Now I work as a consultant, a web developer (which I think as being artistic secretarial work!), with numerous pieces of adaptive equipment to help me with my daily work. I use a CCTV, a large monitor (Samsung SyncMaster 24″ LCD wide screen) using a resolution of 1920×1200 with Zoom Text 9.1 set to a magnification of x8. I also use the Zoom Text black/yellow keyboard.

That is my story … but how have others coped with the studying involved to get the qualifications for their dream career/job? Determination, a stubborn streak, patience and the ability to put in more than 100% effort into the studying in order to keep up with other “normal” course buddies must play a huge role. Today, adaptive equipment sure does help …. but it does not actually do the work for you nor give you better vision! The motto “where there is the will, there is a way” is a good one! Lastly, we know that our voices can be heard so if we need help, we can ask for it 😉