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Justifications for Technology Choices

We made a few changes to the Park District computers’ settings and found practical software that will help elderly users make an easier transition to the digital world.  We anticipated our users’ comfort needs and enlarged the text on the windows and icons; we also changed the background from the standard Windows logo to pleasant scenery.

Our group discussed allotting a part of the budget to screen readers, but we found an open source screen reader by Screenreader.net.  The Thunder screen reader supports blind and visually impaired computer users without the need to purchase software; we chose this downloadable application because it’s designed for Windows 7, XP and Vista operating systems.  If the operating systems are upgraded from XP, the screen reader will still be compatible.

We also noted that the not-for-profit’s purpose correlates very closely with our course’s goal.  The site reads “Screenreader.net CIC is a not for profit company. We vigorously campaign against the digital divide anywhere in the world.” The software works very well. It launches as soon as the OS loads, but does not readjust the screen reader’s volume so the user is immediately assaulted with a loud, commanding voice scarily similar to the demonic sounding ‘Speak and Spell’ toy. Even so, the screen reader includes a window that allows users to easily adjust the volume, speed and other settings.

Dell.com provided multiple resources to improve the computers; from this site, we installed and updated drivers to restore the computers’ sound, video, and decent screen resolutions.  We downloaded and installed about seven drivers for the Optiplex 260 and specifically for the computer’s service tags. The updates and downloads were very justifiable as we want to give the Park District efficiently working hardware—and software.  We also updated the adobe flash players so users can enjoy online media.

Noelle interviewed a few subjects on elderly needs and concluded that one of the concerns of caregivers is that older people have trouble keeping up with world events. We registered an account with Google to enable free registrations with the New York Times and the Washington Post.  In addition, we followed the simple steps to create desktop shortcuts for these online publications—along with MedicalNewsToday.

Noelle’s research also led me to search for both online and hard-copy tutorials that will effectively demonstrate how to use a computer and its applications, and to use the Internet.  We located a tutorial web site: gcflearnfree.org and placed shortcuts on the computers’ desktops, leading to the site’s pages with step-by-step information and demonstrational videos on:

  • Basic Computer Use
  • Microsoft Office
  • Internet Basics
  • Facebook Tutorials
  • Internet Safety
  • Email Tutorials

These tutorials will come in very handy for helping to teach elderly patrons how to use the computer and its many functions; they work especially well with the Park District because they do not require software, or updates—also, the administration building has few staff members to manage software CDs.

Firefox is more reliable than Internet Explorer, so we downloaded and installed Firefox on each computer and set it to the default browser.  The group will discuss further security measures, and justify the decisions made before going to St. Louis.  We have access to the administration building’s router, so we may set up an encryption key.

We had a serious concern  that one of the computers did not recognize the audio driver for its model.  We discovered that the computer did not have built-in speakers like the other two; this computer’s sound will only work with headphones-which were purchased for each computer.  This computer will remain without speakers unless Mrs. Golliday decides otherwise because the screenreader is still operable with the headphones.

Noelle brought an additional software CD on the last visit to incorporate:

  • Clamwin and winpooch (antivirus and anti adware software)
  • Audacity, Gimp, Inkscape (multimedia software)
  • Qutecom (open-source, skype-like software)
  • PDF creator