Every People's Network PC has Supernova software enabling text magnification and voice output.
In addition every library has at least one computer with a large-print keyboard, and a tracker ball to use instead of the mouse.
If you would like to use these facilities, please check with staff which computer you need to book.
This is an application that can both magnify images on the screen, and also narrate actions performed by the user in synthesised speech. This software is available from the desktop of all People's Network computers. Clicking on the Supernova help icon brings up a complete Help menu for Supernova.
There are 8 magnification modes, enabling you to magnify different areas of the screen to suit your own requirements. While Supernova is on it will read any Word document in a synthesised voice, whether or not magnification is used.
Some libraries run computer classes for visually impaired people using Supernova and Guide software with touch typing on offer as well. The classes are run by a specialist tutor with volunteers on hand for one-to-one support. The classes are small and cater for both beginners and improvers and are tailored to the needs of the individual student.
Currently classes are available at the following libraries:
Click the arrow button to listen to the podcast or the || button to stop
DB: Hello, I’m David Baker and we’re at Winchester Discovery Centre, where I run computer classes for the Visually Impaired. These classes run every Thursday afternoon and we run them for anybody with sight loss and it does not matter how much computer knowledge you have. If you have never used a computer before or you have never been able to type, we can help you: we can help you to touch-type, we can teach you the computer, how to be able to email and to use the internet. We have two types of programme - one is called Guide which is very simple and helps you along by giving you menus where you can choose options, or we have another called Supernova which is the big-daddy of them all, which works with any programme at all.
Now may I introduce you to Gladys who is one of my students. Gladys, would you like to tell us something about yourself?
GE:Yes – in September I will be eighty, I am a housewife, my husband suffers from a lot of things including dementia, so in many ways we are barred from doing a lot of things which perhaps I might like to do. When I began to lose my sight I was quite worried because as he suffers from dementia quite a lot of the things fall upon me, such as financial matters, legal matters, - all sorts of things which he had cared for before - and I thought that if I lose my sight and can‘t see to write I am going to be in a bit of a state here, and that was what made me interested when I first read about the classes.
DB:Had you ever used a computer before?
GE: I’d never used a computer before – I had never even been interested in them, in fact I could not even understand why people got “hooked” on them – they were of no interest to me whatsoever. I liked reading, liked writing, and liked all sorts of things – but computer, no.
DB:Were you able to type - had you ever typed before?
GE:No I hadn’t typed before, and that was another thing that worried me when I thought about coming on the courses. On the notice that I saw it said you could work at your own speed, and I did rather wonder about that, especially as I had never typed.
DB:How long have your been coming to the classes?
GE: I did a nine week course and this is a ten week course of which I have done seven weeks, a total of 16 weeks, which means that I have done sixteen hours, because I haven’t got a computer at home or access to one, so really I am only working in that hour on a Thursday.
DB: So what have you achieved so far from the classes?
GE:Well, so far I have learned to touch-type – much to my amazement - I found that very good actually because we did it with earphones and someone telling you which keys to hit all the time - and it was amazing how it stuck in your mind after you had done quite a bit of this tap, tap, tapping in response to what you were told.
DB: Apart from touch-typing, what else have you been doing?
GE: I have made a document and learned how to save it, and how to find it again and add to it, and that I found quite interesting because where I was used when writing things to setting them out as I went along I was told not to worry about setting it out as I went along but that we would sort it out at the end, and I could not understand what you meant by that.
DB: If you had to type a business letter or a letter of any kind, would you be able to do that with confidence?
GE: Yes – yes, I think so now.
DB: What else have you been doing with the computers?
GE: I was shown how to go on-line and to find Google, and then I was given a lot of questions to find the answers to. That really was quite interesting, finding my way around and, as you told me, it was like having a great big encyclopaedia at your fingertips.
DB: Now I think Doreen has been helping you for most of the lessons – Doreen is one of our volunteers - what sort of things has she been helping you to do?
GE: Well really all of what I have just said except for the touch-typing, she helped me to find my way around.
DB: So she has really been another set of eyes to help you find your way around and to give you encouragement?
GE: Yes – I found the helpers very good indeed and I think it is wonderful that they come along and give their time as they do, and they are very patient and it is true that they do let you work at your own pace. You don’t feel sort of harassed or pushed or anything. It is a very nice hour, and an hour that I really enjoy.
DB: At the stage you have reached, you would recommend the course to other people in the same situation?
GE: Oh yes – yes, I would. I have told quite a few people about it, though I think for most people that I have told it is the difficulty of getting here that holds people back.
DB: You have already learned an awful lot to do with computers – is there anything that you are still looking to learn?
GE: Yes, I would like to learn to send an email. I have family living in Dubai, and it would be lovely to be able to send emails to my son and his wife and my grand-daughter. I think they would be very surprised too at what their mum’s done, having waited until this age to get there!
DB: You say your husband has dementia – how do you cope with that when you come into the classes?
GE: Well he comes along with me, though when I first came I was a bit dubious about it all but you suggested that you could find a quiet corner and he could sit in the room with me, and I thought that would be fine, but of course he can be very stubborn and he put his foot down and said “No way…”, so he finished up sitting in the café lounge having a cup of coffee and so forth, and in the end I asked the lady who serves the coffee if she would just keep an eye on him and I told her where I was if she needed me, and that seems to work quite well.
DB: And you are quite happy with that?
GE: Yes – yes as long as someone knows where I am and they can come and find me if I am needed. He seems quite happy there and tries to do his crossword but he always falls to sleep in the middle of it any way. He has a nice little nap in there while I do my little bit here.
DB: So it works quite well for you, Gladys?
GE: Yes, it does and I am quite pleased.
DB: Just to sum up the, the classes run every Thursday afternoon. The first class starts at 1.45 p.m. and as Gladys said they run for an hour, and we have a second class from 3.15 p.m. If you are interested in coming along to one of our classes please contact the Winchester Discovery Centre and you will be put into contact with someone who can help you and hopefully we will be able to see you at one of our classes in the future.