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Advice Health technology

Different ways to enjoy reading with sight loss

by Ali Bates, SSW Tech Advisor

 

One of the consequences of dealing with sight loss is losing the ability to read a regular book. The font can be too small and other issues such as the contrast of the ink and paper and general eye fatigue can create a negative and frustrating experience, resulting in once avid readers giving up reading altogether.

Thankfully there are many options available to the blind and visually impaired community.

RNIB Talking Books offer their service in a few formats.

You can get your Talking Books by digital download. They have a range of titles available to buy or borrow from their online shop. Take a look here to get started.

You can also get your books through an Alexa-enabled device such as your smart speaker, tablet or phone. Here’s some more information on how to access books through this method.

The RNIB can also send a DAISY CD (one book per disc) or USB stick (three books per stick).

To register for any of these formats, call 0303 123 9999 or email helpline@rnib.org.uk

If you have a library card, as well as being able to borrow large print books and audiobooks, they now have an online service called Libby. Libby is a free to download app available on all Android and iOS devices. It works the same way as a library; you can borrow books and read them on your device, using the settings to adjust the font size and contrast as needed. They also have a library of over 7000 audiobooks available. 

To register for this you need to get a four digit PIN number from your local library which, in conjunction with your library card number, enables you to access the service.

To find Libby in the Android store click here.

To find Libby in the Apple store click here.

There are other digital ways to access books but these do incur a cost:

If you would like help with accessing any of these services, please do get in touch with Ali or Chris, the SSW tech support team. 

Categories
Advice technology

2 factor authentication: keeping your data safe

by Chris Green, Tech Advisor

We’ve all encountered individuals that have attempted to gain sensitive information from us to commit fraudulent activity.  You will have received calls from people pretending to be your internet/telephone provider, bank or maybe even Amazon.  They all have one task in mind which is to extract that valuable data from you.  This could be conducted over several different calls to build trust and acceptance that you are speaking to who they say they are.  

An important thing to remember is that companies (including your bank and utility providers) will very rarely contact you over the phone.  You should never feel pressurized to reveal any information over the phone.  Here’s what some of these organizations say:

Santander

Anyone can be easily impersonated, and criminals can make the caller ID, email address or name look exactly like the genuine caller. So, if you receive an email, text or call, verify it’s genuine by phoning them back on a known and trusted number.

Amazon

Amazon will never ask for payment or offer you a refund you do not expect.

BT

If the caller sounds urgent or threatening, they ask for remote access to your computer, they ask for personal details, passwords or bank details then hang up. 

If the above sounds familiar and you fear you may have revealed personal information to a stranger then you can take some steps to protect yourself.  

  1. Change your email account password first
  2. Change all other passwords (this should be done regularly to maintain security) 
  3. Ensure that your contact details are correct for these accounts, especially your mobile phone/home number and backup email address (if you have one)
  4. Enable 2-factor authentication where possible

photo of a lady sat at a desk looking at things on a laptop with her smart phone nearby

 

What is 2-factor authentication?

The phrase ‘2-factor authentication’ sounds complex to many users. Chances are you have already used it in some way, but didn’t know it was called that. You might also hear it called “multi-factor authentication” or “2 step verification”.

Basically, it means that before you can access some services, you need to provide two different pieces of information. Examples might include:

Authentication types

Examples

Something you know

account name, passwordemail account

Something in your possession

security key, application, code

Some physical attribute

fingerprint, facial recognition

This means that if someone has managed to gain your password then they would also need your device or a fingerprint to get any further making it highly unlikely they can successfully complete both two steps. 

If you’d like to activate 2-step verification on your devices, or would like to have a chat about how to best manage the security of your data then please get in touch with one of our tech advisors.  

 

Categories
Advice Health

Tips for eye health at work

by Alison Bates, Tech Adviser

March is Workplace Eye Wellness Month. Although there are a huge range of settings for work, we are generally becoming more reliant on digital technology. This can result in extended time in front of a screen which can cause eye strain, headaches, blurry vision, and neck and shoulder pain.

Thankfully, there are many ways we can prevent these symptoms and here are a few suggestions:

Good posture

Sit making sure your head and neck are upright and in-line with your torso, not bent down or leaning back. Face your screen directly in front and position the screen around 25 inches (roughly an arm’s length away).

20-20-20

Every 20 minutes, look at an object at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This will give your eyes a rest from the screen for a suitable amount of time.

Device settings

There are a number of ways you can make your computer, tablet or phone better for your eyes. You can raise the contrast on your screen. Perhaps make the text larger which can reduce strain, and also change the brightness of the screen. It shouldn’t be lighter or darker than your surroundings.

You can also lower the colour temperature of your screen. That means it will give off less blue light, which is linked to more eye strain.

Get regular eye tests

Regular eye tests are essential for maintaining eye health at work; you should have one every two years unless your eye care specialist recommends you have them more regularly.

Many workplaces will cover the cost of your test and may help towards the cost of any glasses needed so it is worth checking with your HR department.

At Sight Support Worthing we encourage our staff to maintain good eye health by covering the cost of an eye test and pay towards any glasses needed. 

“People often take their vision for granted, but problems with eyesight can occur at any time in your life. As a sight loss charity, we ensure our team take regular screen breaks and keep up to date with routine eye tests but it's really something all employers should be doing. The people are the most important part of any organisation, and their sight is often critical to the work they do so it makes sense to protect the eyes as the most important resource.”

Categories
Advice

Advice to help manage your energy bills

Citizens Advice in West Sussex is offering appointments to specifically give advice around energy, from helping you understand your bills to advice on how you can reduce your costs as well as the help available to you. If you or someone you know is on a low income, vulnerable or has a health condition, you could benefit from this service. 

You can book a free energy advice appointment with Citizens Advice’s fantastic team. Either email energyadvice@westsussexcab.org.uk or call 0808 278 7969.  

In the meantime, here’s some quick hints and tips from Citizens Advice on ways to help reduce the cost of energy and the amount of energy you use.

  1. Use your heating controls more effectively, such as thermostats, radiator valves and timers. You can save £100 per year by only heating your home when you really need it.
  2. Use energy efficient lightbulbs – this can save £50 over the lifetime of the bulb.
  3. Turn off appliances instead of leaving them on standby – this can save £30 each year.
  4. Switch your provider for one that gives you a better tariff. You can check whether you can get a better rate yourself by using the Citizens Advice comparison tool.
  5. You can apply for grants and support from your supplier and also from the Government.
  6. Get in touch with Citizens Advice to get expert, friendly help.
Categories
Advice Local info

Add yourself to the Priority Register Service

The Priority Services Register is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations. Energy suppliers and network operators offer it. Each keeps their own register, although some share with each other.We recommend that people who may be vulnerable or at risk during severe weather should be on a Priority Services Register. Parts of the UK have recently had severe weather – our turn may be coming! Friends and relatives – or us, here at SSW – can assist those who may be in need of a bit of help to register. Each operator can be contacted online or by phone. Power cuts don’t happen very often but if the electricity or water supply network is damaged or develops a fault, engineers work around the clock 24/7 to restore supplies as quickly as is safely possible. Being on a Priority Services Register will ensure that extra support will be received if the customer experiences an outage. Support is likely to include:

  • A priority number that you can call 24 hours a day
  • Text and voice message alerts, letting you know when they are aware of a large power cut in your area or should your water supply be interrupted
  • Tailored support if needed such as home visits, hot meals, advice and keeping your friends and relatives updated
  • Where possible they will send you text and voice messages when severe weather is expected, to help you prepare
  • In certain scenarios they may also offer a free hotel overnight and transport to the hotel
  • For complex power cuts, community welfare teams provide on-site support which includes hot drinks, hot meals, a Wi-Fi connection and charge points.

OFGEM has a summary at https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers/energy-advice-households/getting-extra-help-priority-services-register, and this includes help in finding the suppliers in your area. As various energy suppliers and network operators are active in Sussex, the following are the ones who cover most of the county, but there are some others. If you try to register with the wrong operator they will usually steer you in the right direction.ElectricityUK Power Networks – most of the SE of England https://www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk/power-cut/priority-services/about-the-priority-services-registerSSEN – parts of the West of Sussex https://www.ssen.co.uk/PriorityServices/WaterSouthern Water https://www.southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/join-our-priority-services-registerSouth East Water https://www.southeastwater.co.uk/get-help/help-for-priority-customersThank you for helping to keep Sussex safe.

Categories
Advice

Are you entitled to Attendance Allowance?

Did you know that you may be entitled to Attendance Allowance?

You can get Attendance Allowance if

  • you’ve reached State Pension age and
  • you have a physical disability (including sensory disability, for example blindness) and your disability is severe enough for you to need help caring for yourself or someone to supervise you, for your own safety.

Attendance Allowance is not means tested.

It takes 25 days to process the claim for attendance allowance which is paid at two different rates. Lower rate is £60 per week and the higher rate is £89.60.

Jackie Brownlee at Sight Support Worthing is able to help you complete the application form so if you think you may be eligible and would like to know more or get help from Jackie, please give us a call on the usual office number 01903 235782.

Categories
Advice

Blind Person’s Allowance

Blind Person’s Allowance is added to your yearly personal allowance. The allowance is £2520 for 2021/2022.

You can claim if you are registered as blind or severely sight impaired with your local council, or if you have a certificate.

Jackie Brownlee at SSW is able to help you complete the application form so if you think you may be eligible and would like to know more or get help from Jackie, please give us a call on the usual office number 01903 235782.

Categories
Advice Service

Need help with a PIP application or benefits form?

If you need help with a PIP or benefits application, we can help. Jackie, a member of the SSW team (you can read about her here), has lots of experience of completing PIP applications and benefit forms, and would be delighted to help you too.

All you need to do, in the first instance, is contact the SSW office by emailing info@sswcharity.org.uk or calling us on 01903 235782.

Categories
Advice Service technology

Book a tech advice session

We are starting tech appointments on Monday afternoons. This is to give members an opportunity to book a face to face meeting with Ali, our tech adviser. We’re offering both individual or group bookings.

Ali can help you get to grips with the tech that you have and help you get the best out of its accessibility settings. She can also continue to support you afterwards as you learn about your tech device or other piece of equipment.

Here’s some of the ways Ali and the tech support service can help you:

  • Demonstrate new devices
  • Troubleshoot
  • Set up equipment
  • Lending service
  • Discuss appropriate add ons and upgrades

Ali can help with various devices and pieces of tech equipment including

  • iPhone/Android phones
  • computers
  • laptops
  • tablets
  • smart devices
  • low tech such as lights and magnifiers

Plus anything else tech related you might need!

To book your slot, call the Centre on 01903 235782 or email  info@sswcharity.org.uk

Transport to the Centre can be provided if booked in advance.

 

Categories
Advice Events

‘New Year, New Me’ job webinars

RNIB and Blind Ambition have facilitated a series of employment advice webinars for job seekers with sight loss.  

Going under the heading ‘New Year, New Me’, the webinars cover lots of useful topics which you can see below and access on their website here.

(Please be aware some of the videos have a ‘pass code’ allocated to them which is listed under the individual session link.)

  1. Goal Setting
  2. Apprenticeships Advice
  3. Skills Audit
  4. CV Preparation
  5. Why Should I Declare my Visual Impairment?
  6. Personal Branding
  7. Access to Work
  8. Where to Look for Jobs (Part 1)
  9. Where to Look for Jobs (Part 2)
  10. How to Present Yourself
  11. Preparing for Interviews
  12. How To Be Your Own Boss
  13. How to Find a Support Worker
  14. Your Legal Rights When Disclosing Your Disability
  15. Building Resilience

Blind Ambition also has a page with many useful links to resources for job seekers with a visual impairment. Take a look here.

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