Technology is my window on the world

Deirdre Spain, a person with a learning disability tells how technology has helped change her life in many ways.

Deirdre-Spain at desk
Technology has changed my life and has helped educate me a long time after I have left school. I started off with a TV in my bedroom but then I got a laptop in 2003 and nowa smartphone and tablet. These items helped me to learn how to read and write and keep my interest up in what is happening in the world.

My first experience of technology was when I got a TV for my bedroom.  Of course my family’s TV was in the sitting room, but this was my own to look at whatever I wanted.  My parents were against this as I might be lonely in my bedroom and spend too much time on my own.  Like many of my friends, I love watching soaps such as Fair City, Home and Away, and Neighbours.  These are my favourites.

I was given a present of a laptop computer in 2003.  At first I was afraid of it as I am not very good at spelling, and I found it hard to look up sites which interested me.  Lots of times I went into dodgy sites, and I had to ask for help from my sister.  She made sure by getting security insurance for my computer.

I then attended literacy classes where I learned how read, write and to use a dictionary.  I don’t think I would have bothered with this course, if it wasn’t for my interest in using my computer to follow up on what was happening in my favourite TV programmes and finding the latest news on pop stars, like Take That and at that time, Westlife.

I now have moved on with my use of Technology and media with my smartphone and iPad tablet,  which goes everywhere with me.  Like many of my friends in the day centre I attend, I don’t go out much at night so I suppose my iPad is my friend.

While I know it is sad to say that my iPad has become my friend, and yes know I have friends in the day centre I attend, but like myself I know many of them don’t go out much at night and if they do it is with their families.  Talking to other people with Intellectual disability, they all think this is a real problem with them.  They say that the TV is their only company.

So what has Technology done for me? I now can read and write.  I know what is happening in the world.  I love listening to plays on BBC Radio 4 which has helped me at my drama classes.  I now play and download most of my music on “Spotify” which is great and also saves me money.  I keep up my interest in what is happening in the world by watching “What The Papers Say” each night.  If there is something in the news I am interested in I will look it up on my iPad.  I am also on Facebook.  I haven’t got many friends yet but I know I have to be careful.  As for my family holidays, I really annoy my parents by using my iPad to make sure the hotel suits me as well as them before they are book the holidays.

So as you can see technology has helped change my life, but I hope to continue to learn more and more about how to use technology to make my life more interesting.

Deirdre Spain attends St Michael’s House Employment Centre at OMNI Shopping Centre in Santry, Dublin. She has worked at Jury’s Inn, Christchurch, Dublin for 17 years, takes part in Special Olympics playing badminton and swimming, and has in the past made presentations as a self-advocate in many countries.


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