Saturday, 14 January 2017

Access to a computer

is considered "normal" now. It is expected you will have one. It is also expected you will be able to use it.
If, for some incomprehensible reason, you don't have a computer at home then you will be told something like, "Well use the computers at the library" or "Don't you know someone who will let them use theirs?"
But there are still people in the community who do not have access to a computer. They don't know someone who will let them have access to one either.
There are also people in the community who do not know how to use a computer. Some of these people are very elderly and not likely to learn. They see no need to do it.
The Senior Cat can use one - in a limited sort of way. He can search the internet for information. It is perhaps more than most 93yr old people can comfortably do but he knows his limitations. He has given up on e-mail. He's a "Columbus method" sort of typist - "discover and land" - and that slows the process down too much for him.  He won't do his banking or bill paying via computer either. I don't blame him.
But the Senior Cat can read. He's literate - highly literate in fact. What of people who aren't literate?
A leaked internal memo from Centrelink management to front desk staff has told them to refer people to the computers, to make sure people do things "on line". They don't want people lining up and looking for help.
A very high proportion of people with significant disabilities also have communication issues. They may well be able to hear and speak and see but they may not understand what is being said to them. They may not be able to articulate in a meaningful way. Many of them have very limited reading skills, some of them only have "survival language". They may be able to use a mobile phone - with family or close friends who understand their problems and who can perhaps interpret their likely meaning in a garbled text message. Working their way through the Centrelink site to the page which is relevant to their problem is beyond them. They have to rely on someone else.
It isn't my job to do that. It isn't the job of their family and their friends and it isn't their fault if they haven't the skills to do it because of a disability. Their lives should not be made more stressful. 
It is Centrelink's role to help them. That's what Centrelink staff get paid for. The  system needs to be simplified and streamlined so that those who need help the most can get the help they need.
The "automated" system is not working.


Jodiebodie said...

And there are people with disabilities and chronic illnesses who are highly literate and articulate but they don't have the physical capacity to sit up and use a computer.

I also know people with significant disabilities who do not have 'limited reading skills' but are highly intelligent and able to read very well. Some people may be highly intelligent but have limited literacy skills if they are of the generation that were not given the privilege of an education because it was believed at the time that "they will never work because of their disability so why bother educating them?" I find that viewpoint, of assuming people with disabilities are not worth educating, highly offensive.

When discussing disabilities, it is important to not associate a person's level of physical disability with a person's level of intelligence.

Anonymous said...

Cat was not suggesting there was any relationship between physical disability and intelligence Jodie. You know her better than that. She was merely pointing out a very serious problem which causes some people to need help they aren't getting. Chris

catdownunder said...

I think Jodie was just, rightly, having her say Chris. I also think Jodie and I are of one mind on most - if not all - issues relating to disability.