by Donna Brown

I can feel this computer humming and anticipating my every move, and I'm not happy about it, because it's like holding onto a ledge by your fingers not knowing what to do next. I hadn't even planned to use one. You might say that I was forced to try one out by my husband, who found me a temporary screen reader, Window-Eyes.

It was my husband who decided he wanted a computer. Our house is big and we had an extra room with nothing but boxes in it, so he made room in it for the computer. As this room was emptied of junk boxes and filled with computer stuff, the equipment grew, along with the software. Then came all of those programs that the computer and its user just had to have. Those programs were expensive then, too. Since then, we have given a few computers and extra equipment to a blind society to fix for their use.

The computer, to me, took up too much time. I really did not know if I could even manage one. I hadn't heard of a screen reader before, but I knew that some blind organizations were really pushing companies and the government to keep the blind from being discriminated against.

The technology that has come along in the past few years has done a lot for the blind. If it hadn't been for those organizations, we would still be sitting or stumbling around trying to keep ourselves busy. But I don't like to be pushed into anything, even if it is for my own independence.

After trying it, I got hooked on typing again. It had been 45 years since I had done any typing. But it only takes one little thing to get started, right? I am a nut for even thinking that I could write, or type, in this case, on different things in my own head! Who did I think I was, anyway? I certainly wasn't an author.

It has been four years since I started trying to use a computer. After I learned how to turn it on, I began to write my memoir. Of course, I had to practice my typing to see if I still could. I knew the keyboard, but I had to learn a few of the computer's function keys. And I will never forget the first time I got into Explorer -- I didn't know I wasn't supposed to type in there! My first favorite keys were "delete" and "save."

As time went by, I figured out that I didn't have to save everything. So I began writing my first book. It came along nicely until the guy on the screen reader read back things that I did not remember typing. I was about three-quarters through the book when I finally learned how to edit and find anything in the middle of the document. I had to get used to the screen reader's pronunciation of certain words, some of which still make me cringe. I am looking forward to the day when I can get online and hear my own computer say those three little words: "You have mail."

I finished my first book at age 65. I have learned how to put a disk in the computer, so I shouldn't lose any documents. I do not have to use a computer, but it is nice to finish a project!

When and if I ever get the instructions on working Window-Eyes with the computer, it will probably be hard to get me to do anything else for a while. It has been a few years and it seems that I have changed my mind about computers. It will just take a little cooperation from everyone. I will keep trying and will learn more when the opportunity comes along. I have exhausted all of what I am learning for now. I will have to write another booklet in another five years on how I got online. So, computer, you will never be idle, unless you decide to crash!

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