Blind and visually impaired benefit from internet course

Published: Tuesday 17th November 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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Some of Hull and East Yorkshire’s blind and visually impaired elderly people have been learning how to use the internet as part of a charity scheme.

Those in attendance were taught how to use tablets, smartphone and eReaders in the hope they can eventually send emails, buy groceries online and carry out other online activities.

The introductory workshop was organised as part of the Royal National Institute of Blind People’s Online Today scheme – which hopes to teach 125,000 people with sensory loss how to use the internet.

The workshop was delivered in partnership with Action for Blind People and the Hull and East Riding Institute for the Blind (HERIB), which held the event at its Beverley Road centre.

Tracy Atkinson, HERIB training officer, said: “Lots of people think they’re unable to access technology because of their sight impairment but we’re trying to break down those barriers and give people the confidence to realise they can do it.

“They’re good things, iPads and android tablets, as a lot of them have built-in accessibility options with speech and magnification and with a couple of presses they can get on to do things that they thought they wouldn’t be able to do.

“It’s giving them that help and support, showing them the various things they can use or apps they can download to make things easier.”

Glen Sheader, Action for Blind People’s assistive technology co-ordinator, who ran the course, added: “Devices these days are popular, like iPads, iPhones and smartphones – lots of people know about them, friends and family have them, but if somebody just passes you one and says, ‘have a try on that’ – they’re not accessible.

“The aim of today is that we set them up so that they can do certain gestures – magnify (the screen) or get some speech on. So everybody from today’s session will be able to navigate around (their device), build their confidence with the devices.

“Then hopefully they’ll decide that they’d quite like a Kindle or an iPad. When they then go away from here and decide that they’re going to get one they can then tap back into the project and sit down and do some more training.”

Richard Lythe believes the course helped to broaden his knowledge about tablets and other gadgets.

He said: “It’s good to meet people in the same situation. I’ve learned that there are much more capabilities in these devices than I imagined, I’ve probably just scratched the surface.

“There are a couple of apps which I will definitely look into which will help my situation. I think overall (the course) is very, very good.”

Another participant, Ken Amsell, added: “Coming here and listening to what was available has broadened my outlook quite a bit and has given me a few ideas where to look.

“I hadn’t done anything with computers in the past and it’s only been six months since I started. Trying to get into them, obviously everything’s new to me and I came here and they’ve shown me.

“Even the kindle that I’ve already bought, I’ve found things I can do which I couldn’t do before and was never even aware of.”

Published: Tuesday 17th November 2015 by Tom Drinkall

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