Business apps for blind people

Robin Christopherson works for a technology charity called AbilityNet and describes himself as a heavy user of assistive technology.

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His role involves creating and delivering presentations, writing up contracts and sending a lot of emails every day. As Robin is blind he relies on a number of programs and apps to support his work.

"People might think that a blind person can't use a touchscreen phone - nothing could be further from the truth".

Screenreaders

Robin believes that technology has really opened doors for him. Specialist software which 'speaks' text that appears on the screen of laptop or smartphone has made his working life much easier.

Blind and visually impaired people in employment

  • 66 per cent of people with sight loss say that they experience restrictions in being able to access and fully participate in employment.
  • 46.9 per cent of people who are long term disabled and have a seeing difficulty are in employment compared to 71.7 per cent of people of all working age.

Source: RNIB Sight Loss UK (2013)

Robin wears earphones to listen to what the 'screenreading' program picks up, and is so familiar with this tool he can take in information, read at many more times than normal speed.

Affordable computers started to become available in the UK in the 1980s, enabling Robin to complete his education.

Back then his laptop was bulky and heavy, but today he can use many of the same tools on a smartphone and at a much more affordable price.

Smartphone savvy

Speech-recognition software available for smartphones allows Robin to perform many more tasks on the go such as dictating emails or using a calculator app.

The camera on his smartphone is able to recognise other items and tell him what they are. This is particularly important when distinguishing bank notes from one another.

Smartphones have made a massive difference to the lives of many blind people because they have many accessible features built in without extra cost to the person using them.

Cheaper and lighter

For example, an accessible sat-nav smartphone app provides Robin with step by step spoken instructions to his destination. In the past, he would have needed a specialist device costing around £750.

Assistive technology for blind people is now more affordable and more portable than ever before. If you have a visual impairment, you can find out more about adapting your home or workplace technology set-up by visiting the AbilityNet and RNIB websites.

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