There is a significant community of visually impaired people living in all parts of Wales, but those in the more rural areas often face additional challenges in relation to public transport and getting around, and that’s where RNIB Cymru Online Today volunteer Linda Parsons from Pembroke in Pembrokeshire makes a difference.
Linda teaches people to use the social media functions of technology, as well as e-mail, skype, digital tablets, laptops and smart phones, and making use of a range of smart phone apps designed for the visually impaired user.
Crucially Linda visits people at home in the familiar and relaxed environments of their own home so they do not have to worry about getting to a central location, and the sessions are delivered to individuals rather than groups.
By enabling people to do things like run a Facebook account, Linda helps address the problem of social isolation that affects many people with a visual impairment, making people feel more connected to their local community through community pages, blogs and forums, all of which opens up new opportunities.
"My son gave me his old digital tablet and when it was recommended that I should have lessons with Linda, I couldn't have been happier,” said a visually impaired service user in Pembrokeshire.
“Linda is very helpful and when she didn't know something she researched it and taught it to me. She has opened up a new world to me and I was so happy with the service and support she provided.”
By being able to browse the internet, people can take advantage of better prices on offer for things such as home insurance, holidays and special deals that are often only available on line. This helps to stretch limited budgets further and make the best use of funds.
Since the beginning of RNIB Cymru’s Online Today digital inclusion project in 2015, Linda has been an active volunteer helping people with visual impairment access the digital world, and she has recently been nominated for the Wales Council for Voluntary Action Digital Inclusion Volunteer award:
“Linda cares about her learners, ensuring they learn what they need to to make their everyday lives that bit easier,” says Digital Skills Officer Jayne Smith.
“Giving people with sight loss the opportunity and confidence to use technology so they can keep in touch with friends and family or being able to order groceries online opens up the world to them as some of them are housebound.
“Linda is a very caring person who puts others first and for many, having a visit from Linda can be life changing!”
As for Linda herself:
“I’m very passionate about helping people with sight loss to make the best use of digital technology to help them stay in touch, and help them build independent living skills and confidence.
“I love my work as a volunteer. If I can make a difference to the lives of people with visual impairment then it’s all worthwhile.
“Volunteering is an important part of my life, and I would suggest that anyone who wants to be assured of job satisfaction at the end of the day should have a go and enjoy that feel good factor.”
If you are interested in volunteering for RNIB Cymru click on https://www.rnib.org.uk/volunteering
Contact: Richard Timothy Bilingual Communications Manager on 02920 828563 or [email protected].