Businessman gives iPad to blind class after theft

Jim Mackenzie, Scott Wilkinson and Ken Black, from the iPad classes. Picture: Ian Rutherford
Jim Mackenzie, Scott Wilkinson and Ken Black, from the iPad classes. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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COMPUTER classes for the blind which had to be stopped after the theft of an iPad are to restart – thanks to the generosity of an Evening News reader.

Popular classes on how to use the tablets had been scrapped after a crook stole one of the £500 devices from under the nose of a blind man while the tutor was out of the room.

The crime, which took place at the Central Library on George IV Bridge, was said to have “shattered the faith in humanity” of the people who take part, shocked city businessman Scott Wilkinson so much he felt compelled to replace the gadget.

Mr Wilkinson, 49, of 
SimplyFixIt, said: “This was a cowardly attack by the lowest of the low. All of us at SimplyFixIt felt that we needed to step in and do something. These classes offer blind people a fantastic way to get online and learn and we are only too happy to help out.”

The group’s plight also struck a chord with a former Capital resident now living in Aberdeen, who likewise offered to replace the stolen iPad which belonged to library worker Jim Mackenzie.

The thief struck within an annex to the side of the main reading room at the library on Wednesday.

It is understood that the student thought his tutor or another student was taking the device when the crook lifted it without saying a word.

The theft was discovered when Mr Mackenzie returned from making a phone call to find a power cable that had been plugged into the tablet dangling by the victim’s legs and his device gone.

A second iPad and an iPod were also stolen from other library users.

The classes in which students are taught how to use the gadgets and its Siri voice recognition software are now back on gain thanks to Mr Wilkinson.

Mr Mackenzie said: “I’m absolutely delighted that SimplyFixIt have offered to give me a replacement iPad – it’s restored my faith in humanity. The iPad had proved really popular with the Resource Centre users and it’s great that we’ll be able to continue to run these sessions.

“Although it was my own device, I mainly used it for working with the blind and visually impaired people that would come in to the library. I decided to get one after the RNIB hailed the technology as the way forward.

“It’s been a huge success and we’re getting more and more people asking to use it. I’m very grateful that we’ll be able to continue these sessions.”

Douglas Tait, 66, from 
Murrayfield, who is registered blind and attends the classes with four other blind iPad users each Thursday, said he was “gobsmacked” that somebody could be “so cruel”.

He said: “It really is unbelievable that somebody could target a blind man in this way. You couldn’t really pick an easier target, could you?”

It is understood that CCTV footage is still being examined by police.

A police spokesman said: “Police in Edinburgh are investigating following the theft of various electrical items at the Central Library on George IV Bridge on March 27.

“The incident happened some time between 2.45pm and 4.05pm, and anyone who remembers seeing anything is asked to contact police.”