Betty is a library patron who is legally blind and has some hearing loss. She loves to read, has an active social life, walks in the park as often as she can, and she loves her new iPhone and iPad. You may be wondering how all of this is possible for someone with hearing and vision limitations. Thankfully, Betty has a brave spirit, and she also has an advocate in the Manhattan Public Library’s Assistive Technology Center.
Wandean Rivers has been working at the library for 14 years. She specializes in training people to use adaptive equipment such as talking books, screen readers, and iPads, but she also helps connect people with resources.
When Wandean identifies a grant opportunity, she will help qualified patrons fill out the online application. She also provides much-needed moral support. She tells her clients “All they can say is no. We’re going to keep knocking on the door until they flat-out refuse us.”
Betty has applied for grants and subsidies to help purchase adaptive equipment. She was refused, applied again, and now she is the proud owner of her very first cell phone, an iPad, and a CCTV that is also a screen reader. Betty is no longer at the mercy of strangers to make calls for her when a ride is late. When mail arrives, the CCTV will read it to her. She can even download new books that will be read aloud by an app on her iPhone and iPad.
“She was a little timid at first. Now, she just says ‘well, let me check my phone.’ It’s the difference between having to ask someone to do it for you and being able to do it for yourself. It means independence.” says Rivers.
People are often intimidated by technology. We’re afraid to push the wrong buttons or break things. With her easy laugh and positive spirit, Wandean has helped people learn to use Word, check their email, try out screen readers, and now she has taken primary responsibility for one-on-one technology training for anyone at the library who needs help.
If you would like help with the basics of computer use, make an appointment with Wandean by calling (785) 776-4741 ext. 202. She will help you accomplish specific goals and let you know if you might benefit from adaptive technology.
The library offers many ways for people to learn new technology. For people who are a little more familiar with basic computer functions, Tech Tuesday classes start in mid-September. Librarians will provide training on a specific topic for beginning and intermediate users. You’ll learn as a group and have plenty of opportunities to ask questions. This season’s schedule includes topics such as: Microsoft Word, Basic iPad, and What is Social Media? For a complete schedule or to sign up for a Tech Tuesday class, visit the library’s online events calendar at www.MHKLibrary.org, call Janet at (785) 776-4741 ext.141, or visit the library.
Online resources through the library’s website offer the next level of training. If you’re comfortable with basic functions but want to get more adept at using a computer, try Learning Express on the Research page of the library’s website. The Computer Skills courses can help you learn how to use Windows and Mac operating systems, practice with popular software applications such as Excel, Word, and Outlook, or learn the basics of navigating the Internet. Visit the library’s Reference Desk on the second floor for help signing up.
If you’re a professional interested in learning new software, lynda.com is the perfect program for you. Through the link on the library’s website, you can access all of the online training courses and practice files available through lynda.com with your library card and password. Develop advanced skills to master common office programs, learn web design, AutoCAD, Photoshop, Illustrator, video game design, video editing, and much more.
Betty was brave enough to try something new and her life has been improved. If you’re intimidated by technology, or are simply interested in learning something new, the library is the best place to visit. You will be surprised how easy it can be to explore the world of technology and librarians are more than happy to help you on your journey.