Big thank you from

Barry helps disabled people solve their IT problems

LISBURN man Barry Toner has been praised for overcoming his own disability to help disabled people with computer technology problems.

Barry, a volunteer for IT Can Help, a members' group of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, assists those with disabilities who have computer problems. Volunteers, typically, visit disabled people in their homes, day centres, or clubs, to help with technical problems; the service is completely free.

Barry has been praised for overcoming his disability to graduate from a challenging computing science course, with the Lisburn man achieving a Bsc Hons degree. He was born partially sighted and then aged just 18 years was involved in an accident that rendered him blind. Barry, a self-confessed computer geek, admits that his journey to the graduation ceremony has not been an easy one. "I did have days when I'd think there was just far too much work, especially in the final year," he said.

Barry first became interested in computers as a child. He explained: "I got into computers at an early age, about nine years old. I kept breaking them and so I started tinkering with them to fix them."

"There is specially designed computer software for blind people and those with other disabilities. I use an ordinary keyboard but I don't have a mouse - I use the number pad instead; there is an array of devices available to help people use computers.

"Although I am very technically orientated myself, I know this is not the case for most users, indeed people may harbour reservations about using computers. Very few people know about IT Can Help and that is a shame, but I am an advocate for disabled people using technology, especially the Internet -technology is a great enabler and helps with independence. I hope, as a volunteer with IT Can Help, I can make a 'contribution."

Anyone who requires assistance can telephone Freephone 0800 269 545 or if interested in finding out more about this service email or write to Area Organiser, Northern Ireland BCS, First Floor, Block D, North Star House, North Star Avenue, Swindon SN2 1FA.

Barry Toner from Lisburn, a volunteer with IT Can Help. US1710-

Ulster Star