Our Living with Sight Loss courses benefit from the input of accessible technology experts, who are available to offer advice and guidance to course participants.

Over the last 30 years technology has advanced rapidly, and many mainstream products are now accessible to people with sight loss. For example, it’s possible to purchase common household devices such as washing machines and microwaves which will talk to you. Smartphones have accessible options, and computers can use screen reading software to make them accessible. Some smartphone applications can tell you what’s in front of you, or where you are. You can load all your audio books onto a smartphone and take them wherever you go or point the phone’s camera and read text aloud.

However, technology is not always the simplest and fastest solution to solving a problem. Sometimes using a magnifier, black felt tip pen or little orange bumps to identify settings or complete other tasks can be simpler and cheaper. So, consider what you’d like to achieve then seek advice on the best way to achieve it. Talk to your rehab worker about equipment that’s available to you following an assessment of need. They will also have advice and tips about completing everyday tasks using low vision or in a non-visual manner. 

RNIB has a shop which sells specialist equipment and the helpline team or Tech for Life team at RNIB will be able to talk you through the best gadget, phone or computer for you. Depending on where you live RNIB may have a volunteer who is able to visit your home and assist you setting up equipment, and that includes any equipment, not just equipment purchased from RNIB. If you would like to know more about equipment, call RNIB’s helpline 0303 123 9999 [email protected]; or visit www.vitaltech.org.uk for information on a huge range of technologies from gadgets that help locate your keys, locks that recognise your face, to mobile phone apps that help you move around.   If you use an Apple product then you can book in for support at your local store where you will find support from staff trained in how to use the accessibility software built into the products.

Our group members told us

  • Technologies are very helpful, but you do have to be patient as most take a little time to set up and practice and patience is required to get the best result
  • It’s important you know what you want your technology to do for you so take advice before spending any money
  • Talking watches and clocks are cheap a great way of telling the time and date
  • Talking microwaves are excellent but expensive; you can often just as easily mark up your current model to make it accessible
  • If you need to monitor your health, talking blood sugar monitors, blood pressure meters, thermometers and bathroom scales are available
  • It’s possible to purchase mobile phones with real buttons that read your text messages aloud
  • Smart speakers such as Alexa or Google can be very helpful, but you do need broadband

Helpful Apps

An app is a programme on a phone, tablet or computer that completes a specific task, for example you might have an app that plays scrabble. There are some helpful apps to use with smart phones, however, remember that new apps are published online all the time. Apps are usually free or cost less than £5; occasionally specialist apps can be expensive.

  • Be my Eyes – lets you connect to a volunteer who will tell you what colour your clothes are or if food is out of date by letting the volunteer see what you are looking at with the phone’s camera
  • Tap Tap See – will tell you what you are looking at through the phone camera
  • Seeing AI – point the camera and it will read text aloud, it will tell you the colour of your clothes and recognise people
  • Super Vision Plus – converts your smart phone into a video- magnifier
  • Easy Reader – lets you access your talking books and papers
  • Use Alexa, Google or Siri to tell your phone what you want to do