Tag Archives: Technology

My Smartphone Pick

Technology has come a long way in my lifetime. However, I am the first to admit I am a little slow to jump on the band wagon when it comes to the latest and greatest. I did not get a cell phone until after I graduated high school and I didn’t even know how to send a text message until the middle of my sophomore year in college, so it was no surprise that it took me several years to upgrade from a cell phone to a smartphone.

I originally got a BlackBerry because it was recommended to me by several friends who had one. At the time iPhone was still relatively new, and I don’t think Androids were even out yet. I became instantly addicted to the convenience of having the internet at my fingertips. I used my phone to look up recipes, downloaded quilting projects, and send emails for work. I kept my original blackberry for 5 years, and only got a new phone because the battery in my old one kept going bad.

When I went to finally get a new phone, I told the saleswoman that I wanted the new blackberry and she looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently I have once again become a user of old technology. But despite her efforts to point me toward a phone with more apps, I stuck to my guns and got a Blackberry; an iPhone, Andriod, or virtually any other smartphone on the market would be useless to me because I cannot type on a touchpad, at least not one small enough to be attached to a phone.

The Blackberry is one of the only smart phones that still use a real Qwerty keyboard, with actual buttons. The only other one they carried with buttons was one of those slide out jobs that breaks if you look at it too long. The keyboard is the one feature that allows me to use my smart phone the way it was intended to be used, but that isn’t the only feature about my phone that I like. It has the same basic functions as all the other smartphones out there, including a great speech option that allows me to send a text, email, search the internet, compose a note or update my Facebook status with my voice. The blackberry is also durable. I drop my phone at least once a week, and I have yet to break it.

If you, or someone you love, struggle with touchscreens like I do, the Blackberry Q10 is a great option. It will allow them to have access to the all features of their phone without having to rely on the speech option or an additional piece of adaptive technology. Because blackberry got rid of the track pad that I loved, you are still using a touchscreen to navigate, but the accessibility features on the phone make it much easier.

A Great Piece of Technology

My husband’s grandmother hates technology. She complains all the time, “They got all these fancy gadgets and half the time they don’t work!” She will bemoan, complaining about her cell phone battery because it has only lasted her about ten years. (Which, if you asked anyone else, is quite a long time for one battery to last.) While I do agree that technology can be a pain, and that it is changing the very fabric of our society in some not so great ways, I am glad to be able to take advantage of the technology available today. I can only imagine how difficult my life would have been without power wheelchairs, speech to text software and laptops. In fact, I am a bit disappointed that the technology available today was not available when I was in college. The tablet I am typing on now would have been a life saver.

I bought my tablet just before I started my new job. I had been considering buying one for quite some time, but I was having a hard time justifying the purchase; after all, they are expensive and I already have a laptop and a smart phone. However, my laptop is heavy and the battery doesn’t last more than a few hours before needing to be plugged in again, which makes it less convenient for using outside of the house. I can’t even try to imagine typing for long periods on my smart phone. I finally took the plunge when my friend sent me a link to Groupon for an Asus tablet with keyboard dock for just under $300.

The tablet had everything I needed except for Microsoft Office, but it did have a word processing program as well as a spreadsheet program. So far, my tablet has been a life saver. Especially on Tuesdays when, because of transportation, I am at work six hours before my shift starts.

Thanks to my tablet, I am able to spend that time working on my writing and blog posts, checking email, relaxing on the internet, playing a game or reading a book without lugging around multiple devices or worrying about finding a place to plug in. It has also been helpful at work since I am able to record meetings while taking minutes, so I don’t miss anything important.

I use the detachable keyboard for most of my word processing, but I find the ‘swipe text’ feature really helpful when not using the keyboard; it makes typing on a touchscreen so much easier. Other great accessibility features would be the touch and hold delay for those of us with fine motor issues, optional enlarged text, easy zoom in and out, text to speech for those of us with difficulty speaking and TalkBack for those of us who are visually impaired.

I have to admit, I don’t always love technology, especially when it doesn’t work the way it should. But I will not deny that these tablets, and their smartphone cousins, have been a great help for me and many people I know with disabilities.

Amputee Vs. Individual with Amputation

I thoroughly enjoy meeting and talking with other amputees. There is an instant camaraderie among individuals who have experienced and are living with limb loss. It is a reality that one can truly relate to only if it has been experienced first hand.

It is difficult to explain how miserable an ill fitting socket can feel and how it can negatively impact an entire day. There is something comforting in knowing that I don’t have to explain these issues to another amputee. It is something which we all understand. Phantom pains, liner woes, socket adjustments and emotions are all common topics among amputees.

I have a theory. I have concluded that there is a difference between the “amputee” and the “individual with an amputation.” I often interchange these terms, but I believe that they have two separate connotations. The same holds true for all disabilities.  An individual can be “disabled” or they can have a “disability.”  Some probably think it is a matter of semantics, but for me they hold very different meanings.

The “amputee” is somebody who identifies him or herself through the limb loss. The amputation or their “status” as amputee is the sole source of conversation. It has become the individual’s defining feature. In a sense, the individual has been lost, or at least masked, by the loss.

I think that most individuals who have experienced limb loss go through the “amputee” phase. After all, the loss of a body part is traumatic, regardless of the circumstances. Speaking from experience, I know emotional struggles and the ensuing identity crisis make it difficult, if not impossible, to see beyond the loss.

Eventually, I evolved from being an “amputee” into the “individual with an amputation.” I cannot deny that I have an amputation. It is physically obvious. The changes affected by my amputation have been global, not just physical. I am MORE than my limb loss.

I am a mommy. I am a wife. I am a friend. I am a daughter. I am a sister. I am an intelligent woman with a lot of opinions (too many if you ask my husband). I am a cancer survivor. I am also living a full life after an amputation. All of these roles contribute to who I am.

In retrospect, I probably would have benefited from a support group in the early stages of my adjustment. I tried a few, but was disappointed in the groups that I attended because there was no emphasis on moving beyond the loss. Perhaps had I sought and found an appropriate group for me, my recovery would have been easier.

Thankfully, the internet has helped to bridge the support gap, allowing individuals with disabilities to communicate and connect with each other. Support groups are becoming virtual meeting places, a change which I find to be wonderful. It is empowering to know that one only needs to log onto their computer to find support, answers or friendship.

I love the virtual freedom that my Kindle Fire affords me. I can log onto the internet from any hotspot, and instantly be connected with friends and family. If I have a question, or need to vent, I don’t need to sit quietly by myself and stew. I just need to log onto my Kindle and I can connect with my peers.

I also appreciate the fact that my Kindle Fire is light-weight, eliminating the need to carry heavy and cumbersome books when I’m traveling. Anytime I can lighten the load I appreciate it! If you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend giving the Fire a chance.  It is a great way vehicle to help you connect with others with disabilities, allows you to share experiences and you can even play Angry Birds!

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