by John M. Williams
Twenty-six-year-old Martin Kline is happy, enthusiastic and a hard worker. He says, "I have no complaints with life."
Many people believe that a man with cerebral palsy who is legally blind should feel sorry for himself. Looking at Martin, they see an individual who has difficulty walking, who is visually and dexterity challenged and whose speech can sometimes be difficult to understand.
Kline is aware of his physical challenges and shrugs them off. "I can't change what and who I am. And so I find ways to compensate for my physical limitations."
Technology plays an important role in creating Martin's positive attitude. Sometimes he uses text-to-speech technology to speak for himself when calling people. He uses large print when reading and typing. Over a year ago, he started using the MoreKeyboard for word processing and, being an avid golfing enthusiast, he started playing computer golf games.
Kline researches information on world economics for an international investment firm in Washington, D.C. He has a master's degree in macroeconomics, and he is working on his Ph.D. He is silent on his dissertation topic. He is one of nearly 200 people working for the firm. He will not discuss his responsibilities. He will discuss assistive technology.
"Technology eliminates the challenges facing me daily," says Kline who spends an average of six hours daily on a computer. He is pleased to have discovered the MoreKeyboard (www.morekeyboard.com/), an innovative large-key, large-print computer keyboard. It is designed to benefit the physically and/or visually impaired. The big keys and easy-to-see lettering enable Kline to improve his skills.
The larger keys make it easier for Kline to do word processing. The MoreKeyboard's letter and number keys are more than 25 percent wider than those of standard keyboards. The larger landing area on the big keys helps with locating and operating the keyboard and is a perfect solution to enable users to type with more accuracy and confidence. Kline knows braille and has put braille labels on the keys. The labels improve his productivity and accuracy.
He has used other alternative keyboards, and he is certain he will use others. He is grateful to manufacturers who make products designed to compensate for physical disabilities. He sees technology as equalizing opportunities for him.
According to Theodore Kline, Martin's father, his son is athletically competitive. They spend hours weekly playing sports games on Martin's computers. A frustrated golfer, Martin loves playing golf games. His favorite golf game is "My Golf Game" featuring Ernie Els (www.vtreellc.com/home/my-golf-game.html).
"There are many free, fun golf games on the web, and I've played many of them," Martin says. "'My Golf Game' suits my competitiveness."
Martin wears very thick glasses that enable him to see well enough to play. "I magnify the golfers, which also helps when playing," he adds.
"The game is easy to install on the computer and fun to play," Theodore says. It takes minutes to install, and you only have to type in a code that comes with each game.
Martin plays "My Golf Game" alone, and often with his father and sometimes with his mother. When he plays alone, Martin plays nine holes. When he players with others, he tries to get them to play 18 holes. An 18-hole game with two players lasts about 75 minutes. If three or more play, the game lasts nearly two hours. The game gives the players five courses to play on. Pinehurst, Westchester and Firestone are some of them.
The game has three levels. Level 1 gives players a chance to practice putting, chip shots, getting out of a sand trap and offers a driving range. Level 2 allows players to pick golfers to play with or create a golfer. Level 3 is golfing.
Martin likes the choices offered in level 1. "It's the hand-eye coordination that I relish when playing this level," he notes.
"The Avatar golfers look real and show emotions when they are good or when they play lousy," says Theodore.
Other features of the game that Martin thinks are cool are the claps, cheers and boos from the crowd.
Kline's mother Frances has her likes, also. "The women golfers are very attractive," she says. She thinks the good-looking women are one of the reasons the men spend so much time playing the game. They play three times a week.
Kline believes "My Golf Game" offers individuals with disabilities therapeutic benefits such as relaxing and building friendships. He feels he is included into his community when he can play games on an equal par with friends who do not have a disability. He hopes to see golfers with disabilities in a future version of the game.