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Tech workshop helps seniors to better understand their smartphones


January 8, 2019

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Judy Neely, left, talks with Betty Thackerai about how to use a new tablet Thackerai received for Christmas at the North Central Senior Center Monday, January 7, 2019 in Havre, Mont. Neely, a member of the Hi-Line chapter of the Montana Association for the Blind, talked with many of the seniors, often sympathizing with the difficulties they have with newer phones and devices.

Many senior citzens attended a technology workshop sponsored by the Montana Association for the Blind Monday afternoon with questions regarding their smartphones or regular cellphones and many left saying they felt more comfortable than when they came in.

The workshop, held inside the North Central Senior Center, was led by Jerry West.

West teaches a technology class in the summers for the Montana Association for the Blind that focuses on helping those visually impaired with utilizing their smartphone’s capabilities.

West was assisted by Leif Bowman of Vision Matters.

Peggy Malone said she has had her iPhone for six years now and said she came in to the workshop because she doesn’t “even know how to run this old one, much less a new one.”

Malone was specifically looking to get help regarding her Facebook application because it said it had expired.

Lowell Miller said he has had his flip phone for about three years and was interested to learn about the various voice commands that West had mentioned the phone was capable of.

Miller added that he heard about the seminar from his brother and decided to check it out “and it was just what I needed.”

Diane Miller said she has had her smartphone for about two years. She added that she, too, was interested to learn more about the voice command functions of the smartphones.

Many people, including Joan Johnson, had brought pen and paper to write down the tips and instructions presented.

Havre Daily News/Ryan Berry

Jerry West, left, explains how to use certain features on smartphones during a technology workshop at the North Central Senior Center Monday in Havre. Most of the attendees had similar questions on how to use their devices, so West tackled each issue one at a time.

Johnson, who has had her iPhone for about four years, said there “is so much stuff on there” and she just wanted to know how to utilize some if it. Johnson pulled up the camera application on her iPhone and said she had noticed all the icons that were down below and asked West what they were.

She said she now knows how to email a photo to her friends and family, which is something she likes being able to do.

Johnson also had some questions regarding the tablet, but said she “didn’t want to take up to much of his (West’s) time.”

She said she thought the workshop was excellent and that it was good for people like her. She received her iPhone as a hand-me-down from her grandson who lives out of state. Her daughter has a smartphone as well, but also lives out of state. She said workshops like this were good for people who don’t have family nearby to help them figure out their device.

She added that the smartphones have “so many cool features,” and seniors should take advantage of the technology that is available to them.


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