I spent many hours trying to adapt the new touchscreen computer with Windows 8 to work for my low-vision Dad. When his computer tech expert came by to help the process, and she kept getting lost on it, I knew it was too complicated for my 93-year-old visually impaired dad.
I returned the computer and did something different. I sat with my father as he navigated the computer he has. I noticed where he got tripped up. I showed him some things, and watched how easy and how hard it is for him to apply what I show him. I learned what his unique challenges are.
Then I asked questions. I asked him what features his dream computer would have. I took notes.
And I learned a lot.
Now I'm in the research stage. I'm learning a lot about how to use computers optimally. And I use them every day. I didn't know all they could do.
I'm finding some surprises. The things my father wants—he can have. I had assumed that one of the people he had talked with who knows more about computers than I do would have known what was available—or found out. But apparently they didn't. And I didn't either—until now. All those months of struggle with outdated equipment weren't necessary.
The next step will be to select a new computer that will suit his actual needs—not the ones I thought he had. Then I'll set it up to simplify his navigation. Then I'll teach him ways to use the features.
I'll be watching him through every step of this process. And I'll be asking questions. And I'll be listening very carefully.
You can learn a lot when you pay attention to what people do, and what they say. Why didn't I think of that sooner? I kind of did. But it didn't quite reach the conscious, actionable level.
I'm listening now.