Computability IW is made up from members of the Isle of Wight Personal Computer User Group, we are not a registered charity nor do we fund raise, our aim is to use computers to help disabled people. Horrified by the prices of specialised equipment and programs available we felt that there must be alternatives to achieve the goal of helping people without costing a fortune.
We loan computers to those with special need’s, sort out problems on their personal machines in their own homes, we also assess and advise people who want to use IT to improve their lives. Normally we lend a machine for 3 months with hardware and software that we believe will help the person overcome their specific problems. If the trial period works then the client knows that a computer can be of use to them. Computability can then advise on which machine and software to buy, we may also be able to point them in the direction of funding or suitable second hand computers. If we have surplus equipment the loan may become a gift
The last thing we want people to do is go into a shop, buy a computer and then find that it doesn’t do what they expected. Any chain store will sell you an overpriced box with a bundle of CD’s including the one that will ”write your letters as you talk to the screen”, that’s their reason to be on the High Street.
What they don’t say to a person with sight loss is: “… voice recognition software needs a lot of correction before it works properly, you need to be able to read the screen to train the program, best you learn to touch type”. Computability will do exactly that, the client can even try voice recognition on a loan machine and realise for themselves it is not a realistic option.
Computability members get the satisfaction of helping people, finding a new home for our old computers and equipment and a chance to advance our knowledge. Clients may find computers are not for them and save their money. They usually find our solutions are cheaper and tailored for them as an individual rather than the “one size fits all” suite of programs that specialised commercial firms provide.
Think of today as a sort of “Which Computer” day. Ask your questions before you buy a new computer or expensive software, there are alternatives. For those who intend to use IT as a way to return to work or further education a word of warning. Certain programs have become standards such as Word and Excel, there is little point in training to use something you will be unlikely to use in industry. The good news is that people who do fall into those categories can get government funding for adaptive equipment and software.