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Overview

Galloway’s Society for the Blind supports people with sight loss. It provides a range of services aimed at increasing independence, enhancing wellbeing, and helping people reach their potential. This support covers sight loss advice, emotional support, peer support networks, social and wellbeing activities, and assistive technology support.

Prior to COVID-19, the majority of services that Galloway’s delivered were face-to-face. After the first lockdown, services started to be delivered online or via the phone. It became apparent that online access was needed to ensure that Galloway’s users were able to find out information, keep in touch with family and friends, and pursue hobbies and interests.

Galloway’s set up its Tech Ability project to help people who had no access to the internet and were inexperienced in accessing online services.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since February 2021.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Galloway's Society for the Blind’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a visually impaired person on a low income, I need to ensure that investing in assistive technology will benefit me
  • As an assistive technology staff member, I need service users to have internet access and equipment before I can help them
  • As a visually impaired assistive technology volunteer, I need service users to have a simple device to use so I can support them

Software and tools used

Android Tablet

The Android tablet provided remote access for the trainer to assist the participant. The tablet was used by the participant, as they had no access to their own tablet.

Cost

Prices vary depending on the product. More information on the Android website.

Considerations

The devices could be remotely controlled, unlike some Apple options.

Not everyone wants to use an Android in the long-term.

Synapptic Software

Synapptic Software provided the accessibility functions for people with sight loss, allowing charities to meet the needs of service users.

Cost

Prices vary. Charities can contact Synapptic to discuss pricing.

Considerations

Synapptic Software has brilliant ease of access and can be customised for each participant’s visual and audio needs.

There were a few technical glitches initially, which were all resolved as the project progressed.

Zoho Assist

Zoho Assist Remote Assistance enables trainers to remotely manage devices and screen share.

Cost

A 15-day free trial is available and pricing is based on three plans:

Standard (£8/month)

Professional (£12/month)

Enterprise (£19/month)

For more information, check out Zoho’s website for pricing.

Considerations

Zoho Assist allows users to provide live demonstrations.

Zoho Assist enables the fixing of technical problems.

Zoho Assist was competitively priced for this particular project’s duration.

Zoho Assist had some glitches to start with, which added on additional time to the project.

Zoom

Zoom is a popular cloud-based video conferencing service, best known for its video call capabilities. It's also possible to host, broadcast, and record webinars on Zoom, thanks to a specific webinar package add-on.

Cost

Zoom offers a range of subscriptions.

The free ‘Basic’ plan allows unlimited one-to-one meetings but has a 40-minute time limit on group sessions and does not include webinar functionality.

There are also various options for paid plans:

Pro (£11.99/month/host)

Business (£15.99/month/host)

Enterprise (£15.99/month/host)

Zoom is also available at discounted charity rates through the Charity Digital Exchange programme.

More price options can be found here.

Considerations

Zoom is ideal for sustainability with peer networks. Zoom is free for one-on-ones, up until a certain amount of time spent on the video call.

Data Packs

Data packs can be purchased in place of, or to top up, existing internet credit, through a contract with a broadband or mobile phone provider.

Galloway’s Society for the Blind purchased their data packs through EE.

Cost

Data packs are available at a range of prices, depending on the provider and the amount of data included.

Considerations

Data packs are flexible – they provide internet access for service users with no access to the internet, and can be delivered quickly and easily.

The technology does have its limitations. Mobile data is not ideal for service users living in areas with poor mobile phone network coverage.

Recipe steps

1. Consider user needs

Conduct research with people who are visually impaired to better understand if this is a service that is in demand.

Think about the fact that some might not be able to access the internet. Look at the more holistic needs of the user, rather than just the fact that they are visually impaired.

Build user statements and conduct interviews to further understand the needs of the user and flesh out a plan for your service.

2. Build training programmes

Apply for funding if needed, and work with a digital agency.

Ensure that someone on your team who is involved in the implementation of this service is visually impaired, whether that be the digital agent or the coordinator.

Understand the basics of why people might need the internet, to inform what is on your training programme.

3. Find participants

Access databases to start contacting and recruiting participants for your programme.

Utilise your networks, including Eye Clinic Liaison Officers, charities/organisations working with people with sight loss.

People with a visual impairment may lack confidence in interacting with the internet and might not see how the internet could help them as a person with a visual impairment. You will need to allocate time to discuss this with potential participants.

4. Find software

Order equipment and deliver it to your service users.

Give users a call to set up the tech with them and give a second call prior to starting the programme so they feel prepared.

Ensure you put in a loan agreement and data sharing agreement.

Use tech that your organisation has good knowledge of and has demonstrated experience of working well for people with a visual impairment.

5. Conduct the training

Have a lead trainer calling the user for a one-on-one session. Allocate a separate team member who will be responsible for resolving tech issues.

If a technical issue crops up during the training session, move onto a different subject and ensure the team leader for tech issues calls the user after the session to resolve the issue.

Be agile: if you feel someone is not ready for the next stage or they are further along the project than you think, adapt your approach.

Repetition is very important for users who are trying something new, so don’t be afraid to cover similar topics in several sessions.

6. Continue your support

Provide training to volunteers who can be a buddy and provide support to the user after they have completed the programme.

Offer peer support by providing sessions where new and more experienced individuals on the programme can meet.

Get feedback at the start, middle, and end of the training to iterate feedback into your programme.

Consider tailoring the timeline of the programme to best suit each individual and meet them where they are in their learning journey.

Guidance

Be prepared up front and have your service users ready when you are applying for funding.

Setting up the programme and recruiting individuals for the training takes longer than you may have envisioned. Be prepared to add this into your timeline.

Risks

Downloading the software can be difficult, as the user isn’t able to be physically alongside the individual who is guiding them through those steps.

Some people may not be mentally ready to take on the internet even after the training you provide.

Family members may interfere with some of the ways that you are teaching. They might offer alternative methods of learning that could clash with yours, so mitigate this by having a group call with family members about expectations and what the training involves.

Points of contact

For further information about this recipe, you can contact:

Tina Boddington

Thanks

Many thanks to Galloway's Society for the Blind for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Galloway's Society for the Blind and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 22nd, 2021. Last updated April 27th, 2021