Voice activated technology making a difference
Alexa Volunteer Blanche with Elizabeth Nutall who is receiving training after an Alexa device has been set up and installed.
We fund a broad range of initiatives in order to help people harness the power of the Internet. We are really happy that we could support Blind Low Vision NZ to help more people to get online.
Blind Low Vision NZ: Voice activated access to information
Voice activated technology has been making a huge difference in the lives of people with vision impairments. This technology has connected over 2,000 users across Aotearoa with the Blind Foundations Talking Books and Magazines (accessible audio files).
The pilot programme consisted of loaning Amazon Alexa devices and offering volunteers to visit users in their homes to assist with device installation, user training and follow up. When the pandemic limited the ability for volunteers to visit users, resources were created in braille, large print, e-text and audio to support set up, including podcasts and YouTube videos. The uptake of the devices was relatively smooth with little further support needed.
When we spoke with the team in April, they were busy calling 13-14,000 people on their register to provide remote support and a sense of connection during the lockdown.
Since then, they have received additional funding which has meant working with Noel Leeming and Age Concern to continue rollout of voice activated technology and support. This work means increased access to information and ultimately, independance. Users report that interacting with Alexa provides a sense of companionship and comfort, decreasing feelings of isolation.