Volunteers' Week - Declan Rattray

Declan Rattray is an access technology volunteer.

Declan’s role has grown since being with us and he now supports both volunteers and customers to improve their IT skills which has a tremendous impact. Find out about the incredible difference Declan makes to our customers and volunteers.

What does your role involve?

“My role now is varied. My role is to get people help with accessing technology like computers. For example, demonstrating things like touch typing, ZoomText, SuperNova, JAWs, NVDA and general IT skills. I cover all packages. I can help people who have problems with Macs as well. I’m a jack of all trades; if something comes up I can help with it. What I’ve learnt is mostly through life experiences. I did learn quite a bit at secondary school and college but I also learnt a lot outside of college and spent four months building my own computer.

I help at the access technology open days. These drop in events help people solve their technology problems and are an open day for tech support. The support offered depends on the needs of the people coming along. They are an opportunity for people to try out equipment before they buy them to make sure they are the suitable. 

I’ve trained 35 customers on a one to one basis and 21 at our customer technology days.

I also support volunteers with different packages who wouldn’t be able to volunteer without this training.”

How do you feel your volunteering role has made a difference?

“I supported someone whose sight had started to deteriorate so she couldn’t use her computer. She came in to have a demo of ZoomText and she realised she could still work.

What I do helps people to have hope and build up their confidence. I do notice changes when people come in. We also notice changes with people who think they can’t volunteer who feel confident to after the training.”

What do you feel you have gained from volunteering with us?

“More experience with computers. I’ve learnt about communication skills. When I first did the role I was shaking like a leaf and my volunteer manager reassured me. I now feel more confident.”

What do you like most about volunteering with us?

“I like the feedback I get when they really appreciate what I’ve done or people who get emotional, particularly when people feel they are at a dead end. One of the other impacts is people being able to stay in touch with family.

“You give them hope. You come here and you help people live their lives better.