Letters To The Editor For October 17th

That Only Happens to Other People! – When Tragedy Affects a Writer’s Livelihood

I really wanted to respond to this one. I’m not an expert on software and help for the disabled, but I do know what works for me! I have had problems with my hands for years, possibly caused by 30+ years as a computer consultant.

I was told, years ago that using the Dvorak keyboard would help fend off Repetitive Strain Injury (RSI), so I taught myself to use it. If you can learn to touch type on that layout then you’ll find Dvorak keyboard mappings on most PC’s on the market. If you don’t need the keycaps, then you don’t need to put your hand in your pocket for a new keyboard, in my opinion. I’ve never bought a special keyboard, and I’ve been using Dvorak for years, on various types of computers.

In the Year 2000 the osteoarthritis which has been plaguing my knees spread to my hands, forcing me into early retirement from the computer world because I couldn’t do the typing – it hurt too much. I also took to voice input. Worked with Dragon (they call it Dragon Naturally Speaking on my side of the Atlantic) for a while writing reports and other documents on my clients’ PC system. I found it easy to use. The basic training was a little frustrating, but persevering beyond that resulted in good accuracy and speed of “typing”.

For many years my computer of choice has been a Mac. Dragon only works on the PC, but there is an excellent voice input program for the Mac called iListen, produced by MacSpeech Inc. (www.macspeech.com). That’s what I use these days. I’m working as a freelance writer, so you can see that it’s very useful – the support you get from the company is excellent as well.

I’m not visually impaired, so can’t comment on modifications to help there. I would suggest, though, that anyone with visual difficulties explore the helps already built into their OS, Windows or Mac. I know that the Mac OS has lots of ways of making the screen easier to read. If you do need a new computer to help, can I suggest you try looking at a Mac, and what that can do for you, before you pay heavily for something custom made? No, I’ve got no connection with Apple, apart from being a very happy user of their products.

Hope this information is useful.

Cheers for now,

Dave Smith
Wordsmith and yarnspinner, singer and storyteller