In this piece of coursework I will be examining how ICT has helped a person with special needs. The person I will be looking at is Paddy McGinty, who suffers from Juvenile Macular Degeneration. This causes the light sensing cells in the back of the central region of the retina to malfunction and will eventually die, which leads to gradual loss of central vision. This basically means that Paddy can no longer see something in full if he looks at it directly, and only if he looks at it from the side.

He is also colour blind when looking directly at something, but can see it in colour if he looks at it from the side. This means that he has to be very organised when dealing with clothes so not to put on the wrong colour item. Paddy found out he was colour-blind at 16, when he took an eye test when applying for a job as an electrician. They found out that he couldn’t distinguish between colours and he failed the test and couldn’t become an electrician and so he became an engineer. Although colour blind, he got his driving licence when he was 22.

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In 1988 he was registered as Partially Sighted and 2 years later he was registered blind. Being blind, in government terms, means that he is 80% disabled, so this means that he couldn’t do many things that he did before, such as drive and do the work that he did before. He became less able to do things in work and found himself being demoted because of his lack of sight. The job that he was doing got more and more computerised, and it was almost impossible to use the software on the computers.

He came to the Royal National College for the Blind to further his ICT skills. At the Royal National College for the Blind he was able to use software that would allow him to use the computer technology just as a sighted person would. Before he came to the Royal National College for the Blind, he was incompetent at using a computer and it was almost impossible for him to use even the simplest of programs such as Microsoft Word. This was due to the computer screen being of many colours, and often the screen was far too small for him to see it.

Also, the screen often gives off a glare, which can make it a lot harder for him to use the computer without being unable to see the screen, any better than he already can. They have many things that can help him use computers to the maximum that he needs. The Royal National College for the Blind has software packages that make it a whole lot easier to use the computer without seeing the screen. The main piece of software that The Royal National College for the Blind use is a program called Supernova. This program uses speech technology and the use of magnification software.

This means that a partially sighted person could easily see the words on the screen if they are enlarged. The software that is at The Royal National College for the Blind is not readily available at homes, so Paddy would only be able to use the computer at college and is only able to use it at home, so he limited to doing work at college. If he wanted to write a report or an essay then he would have to do it all at the college, which would limit both his time to do the work and his possible marks for doing it.

It would be possible for him to take it home and do it but with two factors: The first one would be to do it without the software that would help him, but for someone with the condition that Paddy has, this option would be almost impossible; the second option would be to take the Supernova package home which could either be extremely expensive (costing upwards of i?? 800), or illegal, as putting a program on another computer with buying another licence, which can result in prosecution and a hefty fine. To be able to use the computer to type up stuff, he needs to learn to touch type.

This means that he has to be able to type words with the keyboard without actually looking at them. It took Paddy a long time to learn how to touch type, and he is still learning. To help him, the keyboard has bumps on the letters ‘J’ and ‘F’, which shows him where to put his two thumbs to make it easier for him to type. Although this has made him able to type, he is unable to type anywhere near as fast as a sighted person, so it takes him a lot longer to type up reports etc. However, there is a scheme being set up called Access To Work, which can allow people with disabilities to take software home to help them to do their work.

Paddy is not able to use this, for one reason or another, and hence has to do all his work at the college. To make him able to use the functions of Word, Supernova has Keystrokes built in. These are combinations of button presses that do a certain action when pressed. Such examples are pressing ‘Ctrl’ and ‘B’ makes the font bold, instead of moving the mouse up to the Bold icon; pressing ‘Ctrl’ and ‘A’ highlights the whole document, instead of highlighted it manually; and pressing ‘Alt’ and ‘F4’ will close the document that is currently open, to save you from going to the cross in the top of the screen.