Jannette Connell was 24-year-old when she had a stroke, leaving her with mobility and memory difficulties, along with severely impaired sight.
After struggling to get the most out of technology for more than 30 years, Jannette contacted AbilityNet in 2014 and was sent volunteer IT helper Pankaj, who has been able to spring clean her tech life so that she “feels normal again”.
Technology tailored to your needs
Jannette, now in her fifties, explains: “Pankaj and AbilityNet have been of immense help with helping me sort my computers into a useable life tool rather than a mish-mash of equipment.
“With my conditions, it is difficult to find people to understand and have the patience to listen to my difficulties, but Pankaj gives me encouragement and confidence with his manner. There are still a few issues to sort with some software but I can rely on Pankaj to be on the case.”
Feeling confident and able with technology
Jannette says she is now more comfortable and confident with technology and uses her various devices throughout her daily life, which she couldn't do before.
“I use online banking and shopping and Skype my sister in Canada as well as emails and Facebook," she explains. "I do a lot of computing on my iPad, particularly when I'm away, and I use Youtube for knitting and crocheting patterns and demonstrations."
Photo: (left to right) Janette's carer Jeremy, Janette and Pankaj
Last year Jannette raised more than £600 using her knitting and crotcheting skills to create poppies for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.
The Hertforshire resident had received free equipment over the years, but had been offered little training and because of her difficulties, had trouble remembering what she was taught.
“Jannette also felt unable to deal with specialist software companies and wasn't confident she was getting the best service from them,” explains Stuart Goldberg, Hertfordshire County Coordinator for AbilityNet's ITCanHelp volunteering service.
Local IT business analyst Pankaj Bhasin was sent to Jannette. Since then, he has spent considerable time and effort making her computers more responsive to her needs. “Pankaj has advised her on choosing a new computer and has set up new hardware and software to improve performance, security and accessibility,” says Stuart.
The volunteer, who works for a charity in his day job, offers: “Helping people is in my nature. I was looking for some sort of opportunity where I could utilise my skills and experience to help people by any means.”
Jannette and her carer Jeremy are thrilled with the help, which they say is over and above what other charities offer. “Pankaj and AbilityNet have been absolutely brilliant. The service is there for all disabilities and thank god it's there for people.” See Janette and Pankaj explain more about the IT Can Help service in our short video, here.