Stories of Electronic Accomodations
The following are stories of real life survivors of brain injury. Clicking on the titles will take you to their actual story.
You spend a lot of time on Facebook and we’re going to talk about that a little bit later in the interview. But you’re doing Facebook on a computer- you’re doing it on your phone , you’re doing it on both?: “Yeah, like days like tomorrow I am not going to feel very good. I’m going to be very tired and have a very tight chest and I’ll probably do a lot from my Facebook on my cell phone, just replying to messages like I’ve done today. You know, people like good luck with your, your time today. Now I can post but you can’t instant message like we do sometimes in the morning.”
DJ talks about how much his computer has helped him: “But, now, it’s kind of a, a way of passing the day. I go from couch to, you know, I have a computer niche, which is about a quarter of the size of this room. It’s just a room, a computer with like three shelves so I don’t have a desk any more. But, you know, I can sit up there for a little while and I have to go sit down. But it’s nice. You can do the instant messaging. You get people are going to want to talk about this for the next couple of days. That’s nice. But it was mainly my high school friends said, you know, come on out and then my old restaurant friends, there was a bunch there and now it’s blown into this whole TBI. I didn’t know there was so much.”
Doug uses the computer quite a bit in his day-to-day life. He says he is on his computer a couple of times a day, even though he can only type with three fingers on his right hand. I’m checking my emails, I’m checking sport, sports stuff, my scores information, my sports stuff; I’m now on Facebook.
When asked “What was it about the computer that bothered you?” Helena replies; “It was the colors, and it was going too fast. If you put up the, your main page that, Internet I have Google, okay? And there were too many colors just on that page, and if I tried to look at my emails I couldn’t see them, I couldn’t read them and there were too many words and they were too little, and I, I just couldn’t track it all, and it was going too fast, and too much information, information overload.”
“Write your messages each, by time, by date. But then you’d like well what day did I talk to this person last? I don’t remember. What was the name of the company? So a computer is very helpful because you can type in the name and it’ll, it’ll do all that scanning for you.”
Now the old fashioned computers, the cursor used to blink more. Still I’m looking at mine and it’s blinking right now. But it used to blink in a much more overt way. Do you have as much trouble with a computer made today as you did?: “No, actually the cursors for when I’m using are a lot different but then I don’t write a whole bunch on my computer. But I do use the internet and it’s a lot different because it’s usually just a line.”
Are you still doing lists on paper or have you found some other electronic way to keep track of things?: “I keep track of all my appointments and things that I need to do with the kids and myself on my cell phone.” What kind of phone do you have?: “One of those flip phones that has a keyboard on it.”
Have you tried podcasts with her?: “Ah, it’s very difficult to have her do anything on a computer or something like that?” No, that would be on an iPod where you actually can listen to news and current events. If she does better with auditory learning: “No, we’ve never tried podcasts.” Audio books?: “We do the audio books.” Does she like those?: “Yes, she does like the audio books.” One of my growing beliefs as I move forward with the TBI Voices project is that there are low cost technological tools available today, that might not have been there traditionally, that could significantly help long term recovery of frontal lobe function. With someone like Nancy who has a significant relative weakness in reading, yet a significant relative strength in auditory learning, the Ipod and podcasts could be a significant breakthrough tool. Ipods are available from Apple for as little as $149 and other MP3 players are likely considerably less. Of course, without monitoring the Ipod would become nothing more than a Jonas Brothers tribute.
Did you have the same problem figuring out how to use your computer or was it just more technical things that you would not have been doing 20 years ago?: “I had difficulty learning how to use ” I had difficulty using the computer and I, it, it came back a little easier, I think, because I’m guessing that it was stuff I had started 20 years ago or, or more. But it was, it was difficult in the beginning, that I would, you know, have a problem and I’d look it and walk away from it because I didn’t understand it whereas before I would look at it and try and resolve the issue.”
What do you use the computer for?: “Look up real estate, you know, email. Not much, I mean.”
For decades, our telecommunications industry has been in the business of making everything smaller. To a degree, the Ipad reversed that trend, because it upsized the IPhone, which was particularly important for both using it as a surrogate laptop and as a Kindle reading device. What is needed is a further upsize, perhaps to the size of the LCD screen on the Macintosh laptop.