Saturday, January 5, 2013

Technology for the less able

In the past few months my father has been diagnosed with brain cancer, had two brain surgeries to remove the tumors, undergone 6 weeks of radiation and chemotherapy and has been sleeping a lot. His life changed very quickly from being a very capable, active, adventurous motorcycle rider who travelled all over the world, watching his investments on the stock market and restoring and rebuilding motorcycles. He was also an avid and voracious reader.

He now has problems seeing properly as the tumors were in that part of the brain which controlled vision. He also cannot recognize words and has effectively become illiterate as he can no longer read or write. He is 71 years young.

When visiting with him over the past holidays I noticed his frustration using an old style mobile phone (along with other frustrations). He couldn't see or recognise the numbers to call, had trouble discerning the button to press to answer the call, he had difficulties holding the phone and found it difficult to end the call as he was not able to see the finish button.

I bought him an iPhone 4 to help him reduce his frustration in communication. The ease of answering the calls by swiping the surface, the included voice commands and voice over to access the phone functions has ensured he now has some independence back. The access that Apple has inbuilt into the iphone has made communication much better for him and others like him who have permanent or temporary disabilities.

He is able to tell the phone who to call or text, he is able to 'read' texts and emails when they come in and the screen is able to be magnified further if he does need to see an app to open it.

Retro Phone Handset by moshi moshi    

We have also purchased for him a handset (see above) which he can hold with more ease and protect his brain from further damage. He will also be able to listen to audio books when he is able to. At the moment his brain can't keep up or process the words being read on the audio book. This apparently will settle down with time.

As educators we are always trying to help our students learn through different means and to support them in whatever way we can whether it be simplified text, audio books or different apps. I am glad I have had the experience with supporting learning with students so that I could help my parents through this difficult time.

Modern technology surely has its positives in situations like this..

3 comments:

Carmel said...

Best wishes to your father and family as you deal with these issues.

Jennifer Lunny said...

Thanks for sharing this. It must have been tough to write about, but I am thankful you did. It is a post that I will remember (my parents are the same age as your dad).

Anonymous said...

Wish your father will recover soon.