If you work or care for someone who has had a recent diagnosis of sight loss and supported them to discover assistive technology, it's already a positive start to their journey towards greater independence.
In this blog, we offer some suggestions for practical and supportive ways to keep up the momentum, and help to really build their confidence in using this technology.
What is Assistive Technology?
Assistive technology helps enable people with sight loss to maintain their independence. It assists with the admin of day-to-day life and can help with lots of different means of communication and entertainment. It enables people who are losing their sight to complete tasks from home, without help.
Yet many people - particularly those who may not have had much experience of technology - can be nervous to try new technology, and may be quick to give up if it seems challenging.
Visual impairments effect people of all ages, though as we get older we are more likely to experience sight loss. Around 1.5 million people aged 65-84 live with sight loss in the UK, along with another half a million people aged 85 and over.
You may notice that your client or family member - particularly if they are older - is reluctant to start using a new accessible device or piece of software. This may be because they don’t feel confident, they might lack the help and support, or it could be that they feel learning something new is too difficult.
So how can you help them overcome any computer-based anxiety and encourage people with sight loss to take the leap with assistive tech?
5 ways you can assist and inspire people with sight loss, to build their confidence in assistive technology
1. Set up their new deviceSetting up technology is a barrier for many people, and it can feel overwhelming. So, to ensure that they can get started as quickly as possible:
- Set up or transfer their email address, Wi-Fi network key, passcode and any other necessary data from any older devices.
- Ensure accessibility options are installed, optimised and fully meet the individual’s level of sight. Customise to their preferred levels of magnification, font size and colour options where possible.
- Introduce them to popular websites and apps, particularly those that make life simpler for visually impaired users.
2. Use quick wins to build confidence
Confidence is built on accomplishment and with assistive technology, your client or family member can achieve so much more than they might realise. Suggest they start using it as soon as they can and support them to find ways to use the technology in ways that benefit their wellbeing:
- Encourage them to email a friend or make a video call, to help ease any feelings of loneliness and connect with loved ones.
- Help them discover how to download and listen to a favourite audio book, introduce them to podcasts or show them how to find their favourite radio stations. You can also visit websites that are relevant to their favourite hobbies and show them how to navigate around these to find information and inspiration.
- Point them in the direction of accessible travel sites. This can help build confidence in travelling in their local area or planning a trip.
3. Keep in touch regularly
Staying in touch with your client will help ensure they're building confidence and getting the most out of their new accessible solution. Suggest that they join your email list, connect weekly via a video call or email them so they can practice reading and responding using the assistive tech.
You could also email them some information on appropriate local services, centres and groups which might be useful, supportive and fun to join. As they discover how to read information and messages and communicate with these groups using their assistive technology, their skills will continue to improve.
4. Make it easy to get help
While you can’t be available day and night for technical support, many Assistive Technology companies - including Dolphin - provide different ways to find help and suppport on their systems. This means your client or family member can contact the assistive technology company directly for the help and advice they need.
It's a good idea to add the support telephone number and email address to the users' address book.
Assistive technology companies such as Dolphin also offer free training over the telephone, through user manuals and training videos.
5. Feedback and encouragement
Positive feedback is always welcome and provides a boost if confidence is low. If your client or family member isn't used to using computers yet, let them know how well they're doing at each step and take time to reflect on how far they've come.
Provide the support they need and encourage them when they are successful. As your client or family member really embraces their assistive technology, they will make huge steps towards greater independence and freedom. This should be recognised and celebrated!
Dolphin GuideConnect is easy-to-use assistive technology that empowers people with sight loss to retain their independence and privacy. Simple step-by-step menus help users easily navigate tasks and the settings can be customised to the user's own sight and preferences.
GuideConnect is available on a range of different devices, so users with sight loss can choose one which is best for their lifestyle and experience of technology. Choose to use GuideConnect on a computer or laptop, a computer tablet or even through their own TV using a special remote control.
GuideConnect requires no previous experience with computers, it’s quick to learn and simple to use. Support and training is always available for users when they need it.
Free GuideConnect Training
If you work for a sight loss society or charity, we offer free training sessions to help you become an Approved GuideConnect Demonstrator.
This means you will be able to share with clients and colleagues how they can use the GuideConnect assistive technology system. Book a training session with Dave Salisbury on a date that suits you.