At Biloxi BRC, Patience Trumps Stubbornness

by Kenneth Breakey

I was having trouble with what vision I have left, which is not very much. Then the computer that VA had issued me was starting to give me some problems.

Thinking that a program called JAWS might be the answer, I called my Visual Impairment Services Team (VIST) Coordinator and explained the problem and asked if there was something for me to use. His suggestion was for me to go to the Biloxi, Mississippi, BRC and explore what was available. He mentioned specifically Apple products. Being a Windows person for many years and going on 80 years old, this frightened me.  Curiosity and friends, however, told me to go and see.

Arriving at the BRC with few expectations about the Apple products and hoping that JAWS would do what I needed, I settled down to hear what was on the agenda.

My Computer Access Training (CATS) instructor had me show him how I was using my computer at home and asked what I was expecting to do, assuming that my computer and I could be compatible. From there he explained the pros and cons of the Windows system with JAWS.  He then explained the Apple product, which requires no additional software to install. I explained that I had no knowledge of the Apple operating system and felt that I could not learn it in a short time.

Notwithstanding my resistance, the instructor still took me into a room with the Apple Mac setup and showed me some of the capabilities it had. He explained that the Apple laptop could do the same things. Then I explained that I had an iPad but did not use it to the fullest and was now too old and stubborn to learn how.

Both of my CATS instructors, Tim on the Mac and Robin on the iPad, showed off the capabilities of the Apple products and, before the second week was over, I was sitting in front of a Mac, adapting to the new commands and words. Tim, having years of experience on both Windows and Apple platforms, led me into the commands and functions of this new computer, even setting up command and control keys that would fit my needs.

By the fourth week I had a slight working knowledge of the Mac and realized that I could do what I wanted on it without any added programs.

What an enjoyable experience for this stubborn veteran! I also became aware before I left the BRC that there were veterans from World War II who were learning computer skills along with the younger veterans. These CATS instructors have so much patience and understanding. They have a gift to instruct those of us who are so set in our ways and don’t wish to try something new.

Kenneth Breakey, a resident of Milton, Florida, is a former District Director in the Florida Regional Group and a member of the newly established Emerald Coast Regional Group.