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Successful partnerships with Technology for Life

Technology for Life is keen to work with partners across the UK to reach more blind and partially sighted people with its training and services.

A young girl uses a tablet computer

Our Technology for Life team is keen to work with partners in every part of the UK to ensure local people get the help they need.

On this page, you will find examples of the successful RNIB partnerships from all parts of the UK. It shows how we can support any group, or organisation, which wants to help its customers with sight loss to understand what technology can do for them. This includes training and guidance, updates and new developments, and a number of sessions which can be delivered when you want back-up and put you in touch with skilled technology volunteers to attend demonstrations or exhibitions.

Our team has representatives all across the UK. To speak to your local Technology for Life Coordinator please contact 0303 123 9999 or email [email protected].

Support 4 Sight: remote training to bring people closer

Support 4 Sight is a "Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services" winning charity based in West and Mid Essex that assists people with sight loss, along with their carers and families. Their expert staff and trained volunteers provide services to over 7000 people every year, helping them to come to terms with losing their sight and helping them to learn to cope with the issues people face when living with sight loss.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 Support 4 Sight realised that they would have to adapt their ways of communicating with members and to deliver their services in a different way.

In August 2020 they got in touch with Mohammed Atif, one of RNIB’s Technology Coordinators in London, and together they mapped out a training plan to help the Support 4 Sight assistive technology team grow their knowledge and enhance their own confidence.

All the RNIB sessions to the Support 4 Sight team were delivered remotely using Zoom, with Mohammed advising Support 4 Sight staff and volunteers about different accessible devices available on the high street, as well as broadband, reading, mobility and useful mobile apps that can assist someone with sight loss to live independently. Over three sessions Mohammed provided advice to the Support 4 Sight team and explored different ways to help people remotely.

Since August Support 4 Sight have delivered more than 20 remote support sessions to their clients. They are in regular conversation about new technologies and new ways of supporting blind and partially sighted people to be active on digital platforms.

"Technology changes really quickly and to have the most up-to-date knowledge helps us provide our clients with the best advice possible. Mohammed is very knowledgeable and has excellent training skills. Working with him has helped us, as an organisation, feel better skilled and equipped to support our clients.” Zsuzsanna Hybel, Employment Manager, Support 4 Sight

Digital Heroes in Wales: training the under 18s to support others

In Wales, 30 per cent of disabled people are not online. To help address this, the Welsh Government funded a project called Digital Communities Wales (DCW) to increase digital participation. It’s hosted by the Wales Co-operative Centre and includes an innovative activity called Digital Heroes, where school children, between the ages of seven and 18, are trained to support others to use technology. Schools are then connected to a local community centre, care home or hospital ward. The Digital Heroes visit regularly to support older people in using technology.

Hannah Rowlett, RNIB Technology for Life Coordinator in Wales, approached DCW about including information about accessibility in the Digital Heroes training.

DCW was keen to promote awareness of access technology and ensure the Digital Heroes were able to support someone with sight loss, so Hannah was able to work with the team to develop their skills in accessible technology. She also worked with them to redesign the Digital Heroes sessions to include accessibility information and apps, such as SeeingAI, as a hands-on way to inspire the Heroes and increase their awareness.

Over the past year, DCW has trained more than 4,000 Digital Heroes across Wales. These young people are now equipped with the knowledge to support people with sight loss during their placements in the community. They’ll bring that valuable knowledge about accessibility with them into their future careers.

"Our partnership [with RNIB Cymru] has been crucial for us to understand the ways we can support blind and partially sighted people, how we can build that support into our delivery and how we can work together to ensure that everyone is able to access technology and apps that can sometimes transform lives and maintain or, indeed improve independence." Matt Lloyd, project manager, DCW

Digital Citizen Programme: RNIB and librarians add value in NI local government project

Libraries NI has 96 branches and 16 mobile libraries across Northern Ireland, from the most populated urban centres to the most rural and hard to reach towns.

RNIB Northern Ireland has always had a good relationship with Libraries NI, frequently using its local premises for customer meet ups and group sessions. The RNIB Technology for Life service (TFL) was keen to extend this relationship and continue drawing on the fantastic resources available through working with Libraries NI.

Libraries NI already delivered free digital training sessions where participants could attend group sessions for tuition on tablets and computers. These sessions are extremely popular with library users, but didn’t cater specifically for those with sight loss. Historically, Libraries NI staff had always referred their customers to RNIB whenever someone with sight loss needed additional support.

Libraries NI also introduced a new project called the Digital Citizen Project which provides one-to-one and group training with people in rural and disadvantaged areas and those who have disabilities, or are considered vulnerable.

Seeing an opportunity to further develop their relationship, RNIB’s Technology for Life team and Libraries NI agreed that a TFL Coordinator could train the Digital Citizen facilitators to make them fully confident and knowledgeable about accessibility. In return RNIB would then refer customers for training with the Digital Citizen Project in their local library. The TFL Coordinator ran group sessions with the Digital Citizen facilitators as part of their team meetings and provided detailed notes for the sessions afterwards, so the staff could refer back to them and put their learnings into practice.

"Our team is much more confident about accessibility. Our knowledge has grown and we are better prepared to assist people and provide them with more technological opportunities than ever before." Libraries NI

Seescape: From mainstream tech to specialist expertise in Scotland

Seescape is the local society for people with sight loss in Fife. Within its team it has two dedicated staff providing advice and training to customers in using technology.

RNIB has an established relationship with Seescape, having previously trained its staff and volunteers to demonstrate accessibility on a range of smart devices.

RNIB’s Technology for Life Service (TFL) have continued to work with the Seescape technology service and their trainers to identify any new technologies that could be introduced to benefit blind and partially sighted customers. Most recently, TFL helped Seescape with the developments in new low-cost braille devices, such as the Orbit Reader 20. This new technology, in addition to being a standalone notetaker and braille e-book reader, can be used with smart devices as a remote display.

The high cost of braille technology is a major barrier for customers with severe sight loss, many of whom are either unemployed, or of pension age, so the Seescape team was very keen to get to grips with this new low cost option.

TFL was able to demonstrate the Orbit for the technology staff and showed them how to set up the device as a braille display with screenreaders. The Seescape team was interested to learn more, so an Orbit was provided as a long-term loan to practice on. Seescape has now obtained a similarly low cost BrailleMe notetaker, so customers can compare the two devices and make informed choices.

There is now a clear and easy way to make referrals into each other’s services: RNIB can refer helpline customers to Seescape for face to face support in Kircaldy and attend Seescape roadshows and events; and Seescape, which doesn't have technology volunteers able to offer home visits, is able to refer its customers to RNIB which has volunteers able to give home support with technology issues.

"I can say without doubt, that it has been extremely helpful and worthwhile to refer clients to the RNIB team. I usually refer when clients are struggling to attend our centre in Kirkcaldy on a regular basis and would prefer support via a home visit.” Seescape trainer

Advice you can trust

Our Advisers receive specialist training on topics related to living with sight loss, and many have personal experience of sight loss themselves.

Advisers are accredited with the Advice Quality Standard, an independent accreditation for organisations giving advice to the general public.

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