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Thomas Evans

Oliver I-Can! Center Links Man with Family

Nearly a year and a half ago, Thomas Evans, 57, committed himself to learn how to use a computer. “If you can’t use a computer then you’re being left out. You’re being marginalized,” he said.

Thomas is legally blind and realized his goal would be challenging. He lives below the poverty level and said buying a computer is not an option.

He said teaching himself how to use a computer has taken a lot of time and hasn’t been easy but it’s worth the effort. “The I-CAN! Center gives ability to those of us who have a disability,” he said.

“I was being left behind and missing out until I found this place,” Thomas said of the OliverMcMillan Dene & Elizabeth Oliver I-Can! Center.

Thomas began learning computers in the old Central Library’s I-CAN! Center. It was difficult because there were only two computers.

When the new, expanded Oliver I-CAN! Center opened at the Central Library & Joan Λ Irwin Jacobs Common, there were significantly more computers. Thomas said he began spending even more time there—four to five days a week for a couple hours a day.

Thomas said he’s grateful for the Oliver I-CAN! Center and appreciates its many features for people with disabilities, like an audio program called Jaws that reads text, the large lettered keyboards, and adjustable tables and chairs that position the user at just the right angle.

Thomas spends most of his time browsing, looking up local events and products he’s interested in, like new walking canes. He’s been able to find things out about his family he wasn’t aware of, like a book his mom wrote about walking tours in Key West, Florida.

Thomas’ mom passed away this past Christmas and his siblings live in different parts of the country. He had difficulty staying in touch through email or texts but finding out about his mom’s book at the library was special for him, especially the “author’s notes” section where she talked about her life and family.

“It was like getting a last letter from her,” Thomas said. “I printed and saved it.”