EOPD member shares his experience with using technology as a support to keep working

Hello. My name is Martin O’Neill. I’m a secondary school teacher of English and history.  I was diagnosed in May 2018. 

The first symptom To affect me with my inability to write legibly by hand. 

As You can imagine this made correcting homework in subjects like mine very, very difficult. I was very afraid. 

The first thing I did Was to get my school to buy a software programme for my computer called Dictate Dragon. 

It was very expensive, almost 500 euro. It did, however, allow me to dictate my answers. It also allowed me to correct and answer people via e-mail etc. It was clunky and difficult to use, and not always accurate. 

In my determination to stay working. I looked at all different options. The best option that I came Across with the Microsoft Office suite. It costs me €7.99 cent per month. 

It allows me to dictate my answers via WhatsApp, text messages. E-mail  any other platform that you currently have on your phone. 

A lot of people with Parkinson’s have shaky hands? 

I’m no longer afraid to send long text messages. I can answer WhatsApp message quickly and easily. 

Once you have the app You open your messages and just above the P on the keyboard. There will be a little microphone button. This is incredibly accurate and fast. You must speak in full sentences. So you have to think a little bit about what you want to say first. 

It Has given me freedom once more to do my job and communicate with people the way I always did before. 

Sitting in front of my laptop right now at 8:15 on Saturday evening, the 15th of October Speaking this article. It’s probably too short really to describe as an article, but you get what I mean. 

I’m desperately trying to think of how I can convince you of the importance of this technology in improving your life. 

I speak all of my text messages, all of my WhatsApp messages, all of my emails. All of my documents. No matter how fast I speak. No matter how complicated the concept or the idea is. Microsoft Office dictate option is able to understand what I’m trying to say. Last week. I wrote an article for the Kilkenny People about 1000 words which I spoke. It takes a day or two to get used to it. You have to practise. For me is the best 799 month I’ve ever had spent. We probably are all familiar with the idea of the automatic car. We are all probably very familiar with the idea of exercise,diet, wellnes, mindfulness. The ability to dictate your words to texts. It is surely one of the most important methods of communication. And will enable an awful lot of off Parkinson people to stay in work and be productive and useful in work. I have deliberately not edited or revised this piece. You will find mistakes in it. But not many. I’m going to have to turn off the microphone on my computer now Because the text message has just come through on my phone, which I must respond to. It’s my wife wondering if I brought my son home from his soccer match. 

The next piece of technology I want to tell you about. It will cost you absolutely nothing. Hey, go to settings on your computer. You look up part where it says Mouse And then you make the mouse huge. You also change the colour to something startling. The huge size of It. Its colour will make it easier to use. 

One other little known feature. Which I use all the time. Is it the cruise control option On the car. This means that at 40 kilometres an hour. You can set the speed. This will allow you to continue with 40 kilometres an hour without having to have your foot on the accelerator. We are  the only people who know the pain of trying to keep your foot at a constant pressure. The use of cruise control Allows me to enjoy driving. Where before I found it excruciatingly painful. I’m sure there are many other useful technologies which can help us in our daily lives. I’m certain I’m not aware of all of them. I would love if and when you find a trick or a catch or something that works to help us deliver life more fully. You would share it? 

I will finish by saying. My thoughts. I wouldn’t be doing this job four years later. This technology has enhanced my ability to do my job. I used to write on the blackboard. Today I speak my words and they equally appear on the screen behind me. The only difference is that this time they are saved on a document somewhere I can share them with students on Google Classroom. I would like to thank Mary for the opportunity to share with you these thoughts. I would also like to remind you of how much we all owe all of the people who work on the EOPD. I will finish with a sentence that a colleague of mine said to me quite recently. Martin, a lot of people want to help. You have to let them. I think it’s quite a clever thing.