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Assistive Technology has made my life so much easier. 

My name is Jane Gersch and I live in country SA – Kadina.  

 I had a fall off my horse 25 years ago, leaving me with a severe Acquired Brain Injury. At the time I was a Registered Nurse/ Midwife on Maternity leave. I had a husband, a baby girl, a two-year-old girl and lived on a farm. 

25 years on, I live in the town of Kadina, I have no husband, my girls have grown up and live in Queensland and I cannot nurse. 

Now having to deal with the daily changes due to Coronavirus rules. This means we have had to be a lot more creative with the way we stay connected.  

 All the money in the world does not fix your health, so health needs to come first. 

I have had to make sacrifices eg:  cancel a Dragon Boat event in Mannum that I really wanted to go too, cancel being part of the Regional Dragon Boat games all so I can prioritise what is important to me.  

My priorities are using my experiences of acquiring disability throughout my life, to help others, who are struggling with some aspects/ issues in their life. I want to help people and believe I can help people realise their potential just by changing their attitude as I have had to do. 

Learning to use Zoom and Teams has opened a whole new world, which I didn’t know existed. I can now have a meeting on the computer, then have a cuppa outside under the veranda without the heavy burden of having to drive two hours to Adelaide, just to be present at the meeting. I do miss the conversations before and after the meetings with the other members of Disability Elders of All Ages as I believe they all really ground me, and I feel very blessed with what I can do. 

My cousin bought me a camera for the computer a few years ago, which has come in very handy in this situation. Also, I have been learning along the way how to improve my and others experience with digital meetings e.g. virtual back grounds, I had been out and taken pictures along the bike track and put them on the computer to use, instead of the people who I have meetings with, seeing my ironing hanging in the background, but now have decided a blurry background works the best for me. 

I need to have a rest for half an hour every day and instead of having to find somewhere in the suburbs of Adelaide to have a rest in the back seat of the car - rain, hail or shine using Zoom, I can go to my bed. We are not on the roads for four hours of the day just getting to and from these events. That is a risk both to me and other road users, without considering the financial costs – petrol, insurance, car, food. I need to consider my physical energy levels and with the use of many types of diaries, calendars I can manage my energy. 

Many people have spoken about a new normal after the accident, but now  COVID is affecting everyone. I have found the adjustment just another one, so I took it in my stride, but with the help of technology I can stay home and stay safe whilst still maintaining my connection with others through zoom and other online platforms. 

Assistive Technology has made my life so much easier.