What a computer really means to me – Part I
I am housebound due to several medical conditions that include both M.E. & Fibromyalgia. As well as feeling generally very unwell and in pain my conditions greatly affect my energy, mobility and dexterity often rendering me bedridden.
I became housebound at a time when home PC technology was still in its infancy, and with Aidis Trust help I am learning to better utilise assistive technology such as voice recognition typing software to help where using traditional methods causes pain and exhaustion. Updates as I progress!
Even with my more basic usage of the PC across several decades I’ve sourced and located many (not the norm) ways of achieving/doing/purchasing products and services despite my disabilities and I’d like to share my research and bargaining tips with other Aidis Trust users.
As well as sharing some accumulated knowledge of services, products and savings via the PC in upcoming blogs I also hope that to non-disabled ones reading the blogs it will help give them more of an empathetic understanding/overview of the innumerable challenges and difficulties faced daily by disabled persons with special needs on low incomes. Many easily accessible, simple daily tasks can be readily taken for granted by able-bodied, but become so much more inaccessible, labour intensive and difficult when disabled.
My PC is my right arm and I am completely reliant on it for all my needs (shopping, communication and bill-paying etc.) Firstly I want to make everyone aware that as thankful as we are to The Aidis Trust for enabling the smooth-running of our machines (repairing via their remote access facility when necessary) – which for many of us as well as a lifeline also give us a vital degree of independence – Aidis offer so much more such as assistive training so be sure to check the website and ask for an assessment/assistance to see where else they can help you.
Giving Back – As someone who does all my shopping online due to my disabilities, I was delighted to recently learn that there is a way to give back to The Aidis Trust – simply by shopping online without it costing you a penny, thereby ensuring they continue to have the resources to help others. Please create an account at www.easyfundraising.org.uk nominating The Aidis Trust as your chosen beneficiary. Then just check to see if the website you wish to purchase from is within the large list of available sites and simply go to the site via the easy fundraising site every time for them to track your purchase.
Whilst Aidis cannot fund a new or reconditioned PC/equipment for you they can advise you as to your specific needs, help source a best price and/or how to approach charities to help with funding.
Within your local library there is a reference book entitled The Directory of Grant Making Trusts. This is a yearly updated book and older copies can also be purchased for nominal amounts second hand on www.amazon.co.uk. If you are unable to get to your local library are you aware that most local authorities have a housebound library service? (Your local authority/council switchboard will be able to advise. Alternatively you can approach your social worker for help with applying to any of the grant making organisations listed in the book for whom you meet the eligible criteria. You can apply for grants for all sorts, not just PCs but also medical equipment, household needs (such as essentials like a bed, cooker etc.)
Have you checked to ensure you are receiving all the income to which you are entitled? Most local authorities have their own Welfare Rights Department or an independent one within the district. Not only can they let you know your entitlements but also can help you to fill in the forms correctly. If you don’t have a multi-function printer they can often help with the necessary photocopies also.
When considering PC equipment, an important factor – especially when you are housebound – is manual repairs. Having saved for ages for a touchscreen PC to minimise trailing wires due to my disability when it broke after only 3 years I was dismayed when the manufacturers then informed me that as a touchscreen it was irreparable. Also, the matching printer when in need of repair I discovered their technicians were based in South Africa. Call-backs were at odd hours as they did not work to Greenwich Mean Time and then they were trying to tell me to move a heavy machine to repair it myself with instruction over the phone – a physical impossibility. These days I have an Apple Desktop because for any needed repairs they can come to your home, (A windows notebook) and a Brother printer because likewise their call centre/technicians are based in the UK so can do home visits if necessary. * Note: Apple tablets, laptops and iphones are repaired at any Apple Bar in whichever country you are in – worldwide, its only their desktops that can be home-repaired.
If you or anyone in your household is a student (whether a school child or a mature student at university) you are entitled to software discounts. www.software4students.co.uk Incidentally, many PC manufacturers (such as Apple) offer discounts on PCs/equipment for students. I recently studied via my PC at the Open University and, they too, offer specialised loan equipment to enable disabled-student learning.
One go-to place for me for vast discounts is www.amazon.co.uk though not their main website but their Amazon Warehouse Deals (click on icon second from left at top of page) here amongst other things they sell PC’s and peripherals that are open box/damaged packaging/customer returns but all thoroughly checked (repackaged where necessary) and with full warranty before despatch to you.
If,like me, you don’t have an e-reader, are you aware than Amazon have a free down-loadable Kindle app on their site for you to read kindle books via your tablet or PC? Many of their kindle books are free to download, and also if you are an Amazon Prime account holder (Next day delivery – £80.00 per year but to soften the blow unlimited access to online movies via Amazon Instant Video) you can borrow many kindle books free via the Prime lending library.
If, like me, you are dependant on your PC so use it a lot its worth checking with your service provider if you need to upgrade to unlimited monthly usage. It costs more initially but can save a lot in fines if you accidently go over your set monthly usage. BT as part of their Option 3 package give you high quality anti-virus access for up to three computers in your home. I have the option 3 across the board to also encompass unlimited phone calls.
If you are on Income Support (or other qualifying benefits) BT also offer a reduced ‘Basic’ phone line rental costing £5.10 p.c.m (payable quarterly) as opposed to over £15 p.c.m. this includes free caller I.D. for the first 12 months. Also check with your service provider to see if they have you on priority repairs and most service providers also offer free directory enquiries to disabled customers.
Whilst on the subject of phone calls. So many companies these days are utilising higher rated numbers and you can sit in a queuing system for ages too. To ascertain if they have a listing for a standard STD dialling coded number or Freephone check out www.saynoto0870.com this free online site checks all the premium numbers to find a cheaper alternative, not just the 0870 ones.
More soon….take care
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