Categories
technology

Want to try a smart speaker but don’t have the internet?

The tech team at SSW have recognised that some SSW members may wish to experience the benefits of using a smart speaker at home without committing to the initial financial outlay for an internet connection. So, in response to this, we have launched a new service for our members which will allow you to try a smart speaker before you buy. 

How does it work? 

The trial will last for one month during which SSW will cover all costs.  This includes the setup and installation of a smart speaker (an Amazon Echo) and mobile internet. 

What if I already have the internet but just want to try a smart speaker?

The trial is open to those with and without existing internet connections.

What happens after the 1-month trial ends?

After the one month has expired you will need to return the devices or, if you would like to continue with the service, someone from the tech team will go over the internet provider and speaker options available to you.  

 

If you would like to try out a smart speaker on this basis, please get in touch with either Chris or Ali on 01903 235782.

Categories
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
technology

QR codes: what are they and how do you use them?

You may have noticed that a large square has appeared on the SSW news and events newsletters recently with the words ‘Scan Me’ next to it. 

This square is known as a QR Code (Quick Response Code for those that do a crossword or pub quiz) and you may have noticed them around town, on Covid 19 testing materials and in other similar communications.  

A QR Code is a more advanced version of a barcode, usually found in the retail industry. Its key advantage is that it can store more characters, which is perfect for presenting website links.  For example, if I wanted to inform you of a specific page within a website in a printed document such as the SSW Newsletter then it traditionally might look like this:

https://hadley.edu/workshops/android-low-vision-features-series

The above link is not very easy to copy, so instead we use a QR Code which looks like this:

a QR code

 

So how do we scan a QR Code?  

Your smartphone or tablet will come with the ability to scan QR Codes but, as always, there are some slight differences between iPhone and Android procedures, which are explained below.

Android Phone/Tablet users

An Android device will make use of an app called Google Lens.  This app integrates with your phone/tablet in a couple of places depending on how recently your phone was updated. 

Look for the below icon when you open your camera app and using the QR code above, move it into position.  

the Google Lens icon

 

The app will pick up the website link instantly and will open the website when the shutter button is pressed. 

Google Lens is also often found on your home screen search bar and shows as a camera icon, as shown below:

graphic of the Google search page, with two icons to the right of it, inclusing one that is of a camera. There is a red arrow pointing to this camera iconiPhone/iPad users

Simply open your Apple camera app and point it towards the QR Code and you will be given a link to click on.  

Practice QR Code

Try this one to see how it works:

a QR code

It will take you to this URL: https://hadley.edu/workshops/outlook-low-vision-series

Struggling?

If you’re keen to get your head around QR Codes but need a bit more help, come and speak to one of our tech advisors. They’re also on hand to help with any other tech issues you might have. Contact the Centre on 01903 235782.


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
technology

Living the smart life

by Chris Green, Tech Advisor

There are so many different types of technology out there, it can be hard to keep up. In this series of blog posts, I’m going to take a look at some of the latest accessibility tech to see if it’s worth it. Whether you’re a tech expert or just starting to think about the possibilities, we’re sure you’ll find something new here.

In this post, we will discuss the merits of introducing a smart speaker such as an Amazon Alexa or Google Home into the house, and the associated costs of entry.

So, what is smart tech?

This is a diverse subject with many offshoots, but the general definition is as follows:

It is a technology that uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data analysis to provide cognitive awareness to objects that were in the past considered inanimate.

In this series of blog posts, we will be focusing on ‘Smart Devices’. The definition of a smart device is as follows:

A smart device is an electronic device, generally connected to other devices or networks via different wireless protocols such as WiFi. They can operate to some extent interactively and autonomously.

Some examples of smart devices you may already be familiar with:

  • Amazon Alexa
  • Google Home
  • Smart Phones (Android or Apple)
What is a Smart Speaker?

If you’ve ever heard someone saying ‘Alexa’… ‘Hey Google’… or ‘Siri’ then they are most likely initiating contact with a smart speaker. A smart speaker is a speaker with a built-in microphone that allows users to interact with other smart devices or internet services using their voice.

Saying these keywords (‘Alexa’… ‘Hey Google’… or ‘Siri’) is a way of opening a line to the internet, the same as picking up the phone is opening a line ready to dial a number. It is the job of a smart speaker to translate your spoken word into text which is then sent via the internet as a question or command.

 

graphic depicting how a smart device works and a person's interaction with it

 

What will it do for me?

The examples below can be performed by using voice commands anywhere in the room:

  • Listen to your favourite radio station, audiobook or play your favourite song
  • Set alarms, timers, reminders, calendar entries and create/recall lists
  • Listen to the news and weather
  • Recipes, conversion tools and calculations
  • Make free calls
  • Control other smart connected devices such as lighting, TV, heating thermostats and power points
What will I need to get going?
  • An internet connection at your home address
  • An email address
  • A smart phone or tablet for initial setup **
  • A smart speaker

**it’s possible that a friend could complete the initial setup for you

How much will it cost?

If you have no internet, smart phone or tablet then the initial setup cost will vary depending on the devices you choose. The prices below are based on what I feel would provide adequate performance for value.

One off cost

Email account – FREE
Smart phone or tablet – £80
Smart speaker – £30

Ongoing costs

Average cost for a basic internet connection – £19 pcm

Is it worth it?

Personally, as someone who has been using smart devices for a number of years, I have grown accustomed to the convenience of having an encyclopaedia of information to hand for those moments when the grey matter isn’t up to the job.

I also like that my smart speaker doubles up as a radio alarm clock, controls my lighting, I can set my house alarm remotely or control my heating if I’m away.

Do I ‘need’ a smart speaker in my life? Probably not, but it sure does help.

 

If you’d like more advice or help setting up tech in your home, please do get in touch with me, or my colleague Ali, and we can discuss the possibilities available to you.

 

Categories
technology

RNIB Alexa giveaway

 

How do you like the idea of getting instant access to thousands of RNIB audio books, free of charge, just by using your voice?

Well, that’s exactly what RNIB can offer! They’re giving away 3,000 Amazon Echos (smart speakers) to celebrate the launch of their Talking Books library being available on Amazon Alexa.

You can simply say “Alexa, open RNIB Talking Books” to access thousands of titles. RNIB Library and Reading Services are fully accessible via an Amazon Echo and you can also ask the device to call the RNIB Helpline.

Terms and conditions do apply.

If you would like to try out the Alexa, we have them at the Centre for you to come in and see what all the fuss is about.

Our Tech Advisor Ali is on hand to help set up your device at home, answer questions and show you everything Alexa can do and give ongoing support.

To book a slot with Ali, drop her an email – alison@sswcharity.org.uk – or call the Centre 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
Our aims technology

Sight Support Worthing, the year ahead: developing our technology for VI service

We’re highlighting our objectives for the year in a series of blog posts. If you missed the first one (about improving our communication with members) you can catch up here. In this one, we’re focusing on how we’re going to develop our technology for VI service.

We’ve been offering some technology products for VI in the last couple of years but this is an aspect of our services that we really want to improve. Part of that effort is to keep up to date with assistive technology, as well as other relevant technologies. It’s one thing going out and buying a stack of ‘things’ but actually knowing what’s on offer, how each item works, the benefits or drawbacks of each product and making sure we’re recommending and buying products that will not be obsolete within six months is crucial.

With that in mind, we’re actively researching and testing products so we have the best choices to offer our members.

an older person and a child sharing a game on a tablet

Although our current team is excited about the prospect of learning more about technology for VI we’re aware that there are very few of us. For that reason, we’re recruiting both staff and volunteers who will be the ‘go to’ on VI tech issues. We’ll all make sure we’re up to speed but there will be specific people who are dedicated to assisting members make decisions about which tech to use, explaining how to use it and fixing problems, should they arise.

And it’s not just our people who will be key to this improvement; our Centre at Rowlands Road will be sufficiently equipped and resourced to provide training, tech support and guidance to members and guests.

Clearly, acquiring technology – whether for VI or otherwise – generally comes at a cost which not everyone is in a position to afford. The final aspect of our objective is to provide a loan-to-buy service for those who are unable to access devices on their own. This may be because cost is a factor but also because no-one wants to buy something that they not long after decide isn’t for them (but would suit someone else better). This format is perfect: try the product at home, and on a day-to-day basis (rather than just testing it in a shop or showroom) so you establish whether it’s right for you. When you decide it is what you’re after, there’s no need to hand it back, you just carry on using it seamlessly. We’re also securing discounts with suppliers so if you order through us or get a referral code, you’ll be able to make a saving on certain products. 

We hope that our technology for VI service will benefit a large number of our members and, perhaps, make aspects of their life easier and more pleasurable. We’re always keen to hear from members (and their families, friends or carers) to understand how we can best support independent living but, more than that, enhance enjoyment and fun too. If you’ve got suggestions you’d like us to explore, please do get in touch.

Kindle e-reader, coffee and notepad

Categories
Service technology

Now launched: our Sight Tech Scheme

  • Would you like to use email or video call distant family but don’t know where to start?
  • Would you like to try a tablet, laptop or Echo without having to buy?
  • Do you need help using or setting up assistive technology?
  • Do you have a sight impairment that cannot be corrected with glasses?

If so you could be eligible* for our Sight-tech loan scheme! Priority is given to Worthing residents but West Sussex residents are also welcome to apply. Everyone will be helped as much as possible, subject to availability.

Steps:

  1. Discuss your needs and choose a device.
  2. We set you up and support your use for 6 months
  3. Option to buy the discounted device after loaning

For questions and more details, please contact info@sightsupportworthing.org.uk or 01903 235782

 

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