Blind technician oversees setup of new computer


I grew up doing garden and yard work, so although I’m blind now, caring for a garden is not that difficult. But when it comes to upgrading to a new computer I am lost.

I welcomed the two workers — each carrying large boxes — into our house and directed them to the computer room. Though I know I can’t really give you a clear picture of the next few hours, at least I will try.

A helping hand

Are you finding your eyesight fading? Come join the United Blind of Walla Walla — maybe we can encourage you.

The next meeting will be Jan. 28 at 2 p.m. in the Odd Fellows Merriam Street Apartments Fireside Room, 115 Merriam St.

For more information call Joleen Ferguson at 509-529-3415 or visit

Reg, blind from birth, and his driver, Lisa, who read the written instructions, made a good team. I heard Lisa opening boxes and conveying the attached instructions. I heard Reg pulling electrical wires from the large rat-nest pile of wires that covered the floor behind my wife’s and my computers. I shuddered, for I pictured myself doing this, and could only think of the mess I’d make if I were to try this task.

Reg seemed to know exactly which wire was no longer needed, which wire to keep or to exchange for a new wire and which wire went to the old printer, monitor and other computer parts. He also had a sharp knowledge about the best place to set up the computer and its other components. I was surprised at how handy my computer was going to be.

For a time, Lisa sat in front of the now plugged-in new computer, reading information shown on the new monitor screen, while Reg gave instructions about which commands to make. The printer/scanner, monitor, speakers and mouse all had to be installed. There were also a lot of software upgrades to be downloaded. Often, both Lisa and Reg would be doing two different jobs — Reg would also be answering questions Lisa was finding for him on the computer screen.

The speech software was installed, and suddenly we heard a voice coming out of the speakers. I now had a better idea of the progressing work. With the speech software working, Reg could sit in front of the monitor and key in instructions to install the new system.

Then I sensed a problem: The computer was refusing to do what it was supposed to do. Reg had been giving the instructions for transferring saved documents and files removed from the old computer, but the new computer was not cooperating. It was also running extremely slowly.

After trying this task several times, Reg said, “I will clear all this out and try to install it the way I have always done in the past — and forget these new instructions.” Within a few minutes all the files were in the new computer and in the proper place and the computer was working at a good speed.

When Reg and Lisa left I had a new computer with up-to-date upgrades, allowing me more access to the computer world and for my writings. But I also knew I would have to learn many new hot keys, along with other instructions.

I have long refused to use the word “amazing” in regard to the work the blind can do. When, because of something I do, I am told, “You are amazing,” I just block this out. To me I am only doing the work I know how to do and there is nothing amazing about it. But this day I found it hard not to think that Reg was amazing, the way he could work his way through the computer. It was almost like he was right inside the computer moving wires, switches and other parts around as he set up the machine for my use.

Reg’s blindness was a great asset, as he understood my needs clearly and talked the computer talk I can understand. He told me about the hot keys I would use; the mouse is just an object to have hanging around in case a sighted person can’t resist using my computer.

Reg is just one more person who is able to repair and upgrade computers. Being blind is just part of him. Whereas I can plant and grow a nice productive garden, there is no way I could do computer repair. But Reg knows and enjoys doing this work.

Each person has their own likes when it comes to working. This is the same with the blind as with the sighted. Being blind shouldn’t stop anyone from doing the work they enjoy doing. Being blind doesn’t make a person different — it is how the blindness is viewed by others that makes the difference.

Have a great day, and don’t let fading eyesight stop you from enjoying life.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at enjoying life.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or at


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