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 just some 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].
BlindAid: bringing tech training into the home
RNIB first started to talk to BlindAid about technology in 2016. At that time, BlindAid covered 12 boroughs of London with 18 home visitors. Its client base was diverse, but all were home bound.
The team at BlindAid ran an excellent and popular service, but it identified access technology as an area to develop.
BlindAid offered some community technology projects, primarily around desktop computers. From talking to service users, it knew it could help more people by offering support on accessible high street technology like smart phones, tablets and smart speakers.
Davinder Kullar, one of RNIB’s Technology Coordinators in London, and the BlindAid team mapped its existing services and assessed areas of strength and weakness. Davinder developed a tailored plan to assist the BlindAid team grow their skills and confidence.
Over six months, Davinder trained 18 home visitors. They learned about the built-in accessibility settings on a range of different high street technologies, including iPhones and tablets, Android devices, smart speakers like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, and more. BlindAid has delivered more than 4,000 interactions of support to service users.
BlindAid is keen to keep the team updated with any new technology that may be of interest to its service users. Since the RNIB training has finished, it has been working with other organisations and been given training on Synapptic so it can demonstrate the software to their service users too.
BlindAid staff is more confident in referring clients in to the RNIB Technology for Life service and able to assist with accessible tech in RNIB customer’s own homes. RNIB refers customers to the IT classes held at BlindAid’s community project in Kings Cross, London.
We have indeed had a few instances of referrals from RNIB for people already getting support from our charity that we have subsequently been able to assist with accessible tech in their own home. We do also get referrals from RNIB for the IT classes held at our community project in King's Cross." Richie Walden, operations director, BlindAid
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 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 piece of equipment, 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