Tuesday, June 20, 2006

This has been a busy day so far. One huge task that we accomplished was getting KC's BrailleNote to work with a bluetooth cell phone, so she can access the internet when she's traveling. That involved a lengthy session with KC, Jonathan from HumanWare, and me. Since Jonathan is blind, I read the relevant sections of the phone manual, as well as whatever was displayed on the phone's screen.

Actually, we first tried to get the phone's infrared to talk to the BrailleNote's infrared. No matter how hard we tried, we couldn't quite get that to work. Moreover, the way the phone's infrared works, every time the phone is powered up, the infrared would have to be restarted. That's fine for a sighted person to do, but it's a jolly pain in the neck for a person who can't see the screen at all. One little miscue and a person would be sent to the wrong menu, the wrong screen, etc., with no real way to determine what was going on with the phone.

So Jonathan suggested that we try to get the two devices talking to one another via bluetooth. He has the steps memorized for setting up the BrailleNote, so my job became a combination of reading manual excerpts, as needed, and of clicking responses to the prompts from the telephone when it got bluetooth signals from the BrailleNote.

To make a long story less long, it took us well over an hour of experimenting with the infrared and the bluetooth, but by gosh we got that BrailleNote onto the internet via that cell phone. :o) Now, as KC has only a limited number of minutes in her current cell phone plan, she's not going to be using the phone to download mail every two seconds, nor to spend eons surfing the web. But when she travels, it'll be nice for her to be able to download mail now and then and keep up with her correspondence.

And meanwhile, the whole time I was involved in this process, all I could think of was how amazing, wonderful, and beneficial this technology was. The phrase, "I live for things like this" kept going through my head. I really feel like if I can get the training to become a tech trainer for deaf, blind, and/or deaf-blind consumers, I would have found at least part of my calling in life. I think the hospital might have actually done me a favor by sending me back into the job-seeking category, because now I have all the free time in the world to pursue whatever training I'll need. I can think of far worse places to be in life than having an idea of something I'd looooove to do, and the time to be trained to do it.

I'm grabbing every available bit of literature I can find at any exhibit table manned by a company that appears to have anything to do with assistive tech or tech training. There's no such thing as too much knowledge, after all. ;o)

Last night, Kathy B, the other SSP working with KC, had to go back home. She couldn't get the whole week off from work, but she did manage to get down here for Sunday and Monday. We had another SSP come in to help us. However, she's relatively new to the concept of SSPing. She's worked closely with one deaf-blind person in her community, but I kind of think that's the only deaf-blind person she's worked with extensively. This is the SSP's first AADB convention, and she just felt overwhelmed. So she spoke to our team leader about it, and they mutually agreed that the SSP might have an easier time of it if she were working in a different situation. So the SSP will get a new assignment, and there'll be a new SSP teaming up with us starting tomorrow morning.

Anyway, it's time for me to turn in. We have a long day ahead of us tomorrow, and there's going to be lots of techie stuff then, too. :o) There's a workshop on cochlear implants and assistive listening devices at 8:30 tomorrow morning, followed by visits to still more exhibit tables and a trip to a separate Tech Lab that's been set up. OOOO, I can't wait! :o)

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