My Journey, Then and Now

Today’s post comes from a very dear friend of mine, Lynne Maleeff.  We both help teach on the TTJ Instructor Team, all events and services can be found at

TTJTech.net

So, Let’s read Lynne’s story and enjoy her Journey together!

 

By Lynne Maleeff

 

As I begin my third year, I am very honored to be an Instructor on the TTJ Instructor Team. In meeting our new Students, it reminds me of how frustrated I, as a visually impaired person, was when I watched sighted people use their devices with excitement.

I was a Co-Director of Employment for The Montgomery County Association for the Blind for almost 10 years. I worked with my Clients who were either born blind or going through Vision loss due to disease, trauma, and myriad other causes. We worked on realistic goals and what we’re necessary steps to move forward towards those goals. Technology was, of course, a major aspect to learn in order to be “job ready”.

At that time, I was losing vision slowly due to Retinitis Pigmentosa. I learned a very valuable lesson that I like to pass on to anyone in the same situation. That is, learn to use screen readers while you still have functional vision, so that when the time comes that you need to depend on that technology, you will be ready.

When the IPhone first came out, over ten years ago, I wanted one as much as everyone else. I sat by while new iPhone users found their new best friend. My family told me that there was no way that I could use this new device that so many people were shrieking over with joy when they were using it.

I heard about VoiceOver on the IPhone and soon became the proud owner of my very own!  

This year, working with new students has allowed me to re-visit that Lynne of the past who was feeling the same way as you might be felling, so many years ago. I remember being at an ACB Convention and taking a workshop called Take a Bite Out of Apple, given by College Students who were proficient VoiceOver users. I watched with amazement as they demonstrated their brilliant skills. I came home and told as many people as I could about what I learned to do on my new iPhone.

At that time I was just an Apple Customer, not an employee. I was fortunate to find an Apple team member who was willing to work with me on enhancing my rudimentary VoiceOver skills. One year later, in 2011, I partnered with Apple in my local Philadelphia Store and my PA Council of the Blind Chapter, to have the first VoiceOver Event ever for over one hundred local participants.

Fast forward to present, I not only live and breathe VoiceOver, but I also have been working at Apple Retail for the past eight years!

My time at Apple has been such a privilege and a joy. I have the opportunity to teach both sighted and visually impaired customers how to use their Apple devices. It is the best feeling in the world to change someone’s life through the independence that comes with knowing how to use your Apple device.

I created an Accessibility Team at our Apple Store to learn and teach our entire store Team the awesome Accessibility features, apps and accessories to enhance their interactions with customers in need. My Team are so eager to learn, as my passion is contagious.

So, when you are new at this, just take it one step at a time and don’t be discouraged or frustrated. Play around with what you learn and if you get lost, hit your home button, or swipe up to go your home screen and start again.

I was fortunate to find one dedicated Apple employee to work with me. You have the fabulous TTJ Team to support you with tons of resources. The more you practice, the better you will get. We call it “muscle memory”. Just remember that we are here for you in our classes, support sessions, and more.

Here’s to a great year, learning and exploring together.

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