Technology is increasing independence for blind and partially sighted people

Posted: March 7, 2017

In the past, the UK’s two million blind or partially sighted people would have been reliant on others to go about their everyday lives.

They would also not have been able to access the same products and services as everyone else, or at least required them to be adapted so they could access them in a different way.

But new advances in technology are offering increased levels of independence for blind and partially sighted people that they could not have imaged a few years ago.

Among the major organisations taking advantage of this revolution is RBS, which recently worked with RNIB to adapt the bank’s new mobile app, making it more accessible to blind and partially sighted customers. This makes it possible for them to access the same services as other customers, in exactly the same way.

The development of digital assistants like Amazon Echo are now allowing people to control devices in their home through voice commands, from any room in the house.

However, the most exciting developments remain in the use of artificial intelligence, particularly its integration into wearable technology.

RNIB’s Techshare conference provided an opportunity for innovative companies to display their latest developments and the offering on the day showed the future of assistive tech is bright.

Among the products on display were AI enabled glasses, that can convert text and signs into audio descriptions, allowing the user to engage with books, restaurant menus and street signs without assistance.

They also have the capability to recognise faces and remember names, informing the user who they are talking to and making it easier for them to join in with conversations.

For a long time, the features that made products accessible to blind and partially sighted people were viewed by developers as added extras but more sectors are coming around to the fact that those same features are also in demand across the entire population.

And as technology continues to move forward this trend looks set to continue, bringing complete independence for blind and partially sighted people another step closer.

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