Until he had an iPad at home, Simon seemed to limit his internet use. He continued to use skills which he was confident in, and did not explore different applications, even after he had been introduced to them through a six week iPad course at WECIL. As Simon says, ‘a man came in and helped us learn how to use the iPad. Some things were a bit complicated but I found it quite helpful [...] maps he was on about and Skype and things like that. [...] The camera, he showed us how to use the camera, so he told us all sorts of things’.
Although the class was helpful, and Simon was introduced to a number of different applications on the iPad, he hadn’t ‘come round’ to using what was shown in class, and was still ‘mostly using it for searching things’. Although Simon would like to use applications like Skype, he says that he would ‘need a bit more advice and help on that and [...] wouldn’t be able to do that on my own.’ The class may have been useful to introduce him to different things, but it wasn’t enough to give him long-term skills.
Simon was very positive about the support available at WECIL. He often said that the staff at WECIL ‘would help me’, or that a particular staff member is ‘very good, you know, helps me out’. Although Simon was very aware that help was available, he seemed not to ask for help very often. Before he attended the iPad course, he felt that ‘somebody to prompt me and guide me [...] will be handy’, but he didn’t seem to actively seek this kind of support when he attended WECIL for drop-in sessions. After eighteen months, Simon was still using WECIL consistently, less for support than for social contact and structure.
Simon had broadband for ‘a couple of years’ before he had an internet-enabled device to use at home. He seemed to maintain this connection, with the intention of it being ready for when he bought a device. Reflecting on that time, Simon talks about how he hadn’t thought to ask his daughter to show him how to use a computer, she had ‘always been really busy at college and school’, and had never really thought about using computers ‘because of me sight loss’. After he started attending drop-in sessions at WECIL, Simon used Amazon on a couple of occasions. On these occasions he had support from his daughter. As Simon describes, he was happy searching the site, but was unable to transact without support: