Technology Promotes Effective Peer Support
By Timothy Hornik
Peer support is one of the greatest tools we can learn to use as we contend with and eventually overcome a disability. From our BVA regional groups to the VA Blind Rehabilitation Centers, we depend on peer support to instill hope, learn new tips, and build camaraderie among us all.
Unfortunately, blindness restricts our abilities to engage in many of these types of programs. However, these restrictions need not exist with respect to the technologies we receive from the BRCs. To aid us in our use of adaptive technology and to increase participation in teleconferencing services that facilitate peer support programs for blinded veterans, I encourage our members to participate with the Hines Blind Center Alumni and Blind Vet Tech teleconferences.
The Hines Blind Center Alumni offers teleconferences on iOS and GPS devices, in addition to Windows computers. These occur on the first Tuesday and Thursday of the month at 10:00 a.m. Central Standard Time. The number to dial in is 800-767-1750 with an access code of 44125.
The Blind Vet Tech teleconferences offer a general monthly technology and MacOS session. These teleconferences differ from the aforementioned ones as each month has a specific topic and live demonstration or tutorial on the subject. The Blind Vet Tech teleconferences occur on the second Thursday of the month for the monthly MacOS Talk and the third Thursday for the Monthly Tech Talk. Both begin at 7:00 p.m. The call-in number is 866-820-9940 with no access code needed.
The two teleconferences demonstrate what is possible when blinded veterans come together and learn to use technology to enrich our lives. Starting up one’s own peer support teleconference requires only a free service like FreeTeleconference.com or Skype, a core group of contributors, and the desire to assist fellow blind and visually impaired veterans. This is the simplest method to resolve the complicated problems throughout the existing BVA communication channels.
For more than a year now I have been submitting short articles to the Bulletin about technology and how it can expand and broaden our horizons. Some of our readers have been interested enough in these subjects to respond with letters to the editor or to contact me directly with questions and feedback. We hope to receive even more such feedback and engage in additional dialogue.
Please submit such communication initially through Stuart Nelson, our publication editor. He will forward it to me when appropriate. Certainly we have not even scratched the surface with the topics we have covered thus far. You, our BVA members who use technology and deal with its inherent frustrations and challenges, are a vast, untapped resource. Please send ideas for articles or consider writing one yourself!