I now feel confident using technology
Stephen started to get involved with Go Digital just before coronavirus lockdown measures due were introduced. He tells us how the project has supported him during lockdown.
Before being referred, I didn’t use my computer, and I didn’t really have a great deal of confidence. I had connected my computer to my television screen, which helped a little. However, this also meant I had to sit on the floor to use it, which was not suitable for my back or posture.
I met with the Digital Inclusion coordinator, who suggested that an iPad might be a little easier. Whilst the screen is smaller; the accessibility features could make using technology a little easier. Plus I would be able to sit on the sofa in comfort. I also have an iPhone so, we thought that many of the skills would be transferable and make things easier.
How I was supported during lockdown
Unfortunately, lockdown happened shortly after our initial meeting, so I wasn’t sure how I would get support during this time. The coordinator rang to complete the paperwork for my iPad, and he explained that this was a bizarre situation for all concerned. As he lived so far away from me in South Wales, he had hoped to recruit volunteers to support me but of course, face to face support this way would not be possible.
Instead, we agreed that we would try video calling every week. Each session took place over a WhatsApp video call so we could see each other and so that the coordinator could see what I was seeing on my screen and guide me to the different areas of the screen that were unfamiliar to me.
The coronavirus pandemic helped me to realise very quickly that I needed to develop my digital skills for me to stay connected with the world, especially with food shopping.
My coordinator was thrilled when he called for one of our sessions to find that I was in the middle of my weekly food shop. He was so pleased to see to me giving it a go that we decided he would leave me to it and call back once I was done. I also have a much better understanding of other online shops such as Amazon which I have used to purchase a new shaver.
Another way in which I feel connected with the world is through listening to the radio and finding out about the news. My coordinator supported me to set up a BBC account and help me to navigate around the iPlayer, and BBC Sounds sites. This included finding the audiobooks that I was able to tell my sister all about. We then worked together to organise my favourites folder so that all my essential websites, including online banking, are easily found and in one place.
We managed to develop and tweak my accessibility features so that I can use my desktop with a lot more confidence. This also meant turning on the narration tool that can read different parts of the screen for me. I know where I can go to change this and other areas in the future.
Starting to figure out my own hacks
With the iPad up and running, we were able to change our sessions from the phone to the tablet using Skype. This was a significant improvement being able to see a much bigger picture on the screen. Using the iPad for one of the calls meant that I could develop my knowledge of the phone. We worked through the features of the camera - I was amazed at the quality of the pictures. I was then able to use pinch zoom to see much more detail. I now know how to send photos on to people. I’ve also learnt how to access those pictures on my iPad after syncing the devices together.
My confidence in using the computer has grown and grown, and I’ve even found my own little ‘hacks’. Like when I do the weekly food shop online, I was finding that delivery slots weren’t available for around two weeks. So, with this in mind, I now complete my shopping and select a delivery date for a fortnight’s time. After a week, I go back to the online shop and add other things that I know I now need. This saves me from waiting another two weeks for that shopping.
I'm so much more confident now
I certainly feel that if a similar lockdown situation were to happen in the future, I would feel much more confident in staying connected with the world.
As I am using the computer more and more, I am looking into getting a good desk that will fit my TV, keyboard and mouse. This will give me somewhere to sit properly without any risk or discomfort rather than being on the floor.
I am also beginning to experiment further with Siri. Siri is already reading my texts back to me, and if I wake up in the middle of the night, I ask Siri for the time, and this saves me scrabbling around in the dark.