Advances in modern technology and equipment have made life a lot easier for many blind and partially sighted people.
Stephen Steppens explains how he uses some of this technology at home, on holiday and in work.
‘I went to Amsterdam on holiday and recorded the sounds of trams and so on and it reproduced it so well. It’s like the audio equivalent of a really good camera.
‘For work, I have a Daisy bookreader, which I use as a note-taker here, it’s a Viktor Reader Stream. It’s an SD card machine that I use for quickly taking notes when people phone up and it’s really fast and useful.
‘The other thing I use a lot is a Penfriend. I use it for labels – so all our computer disks here have labels and I change them every day. You just re-record the labels using speech, let’s say the disk number. That’s a very useful gadget. I use one at home as well for all my food containers and I’ve done about 300 CDs with it.
‘We get computer training once a week at work, but most of my knowledge is self-taught. We use a screen-reader software called Jaws, which you type into and it talks to you. You can go on the internet, say internet explorer, or Firefox, and it opens it up and you find your web page, and it reads what’s on there. And it reads your emails and everything.
‘And there’s my Trekker Breeze [GPS] – that’s wonderful. This is my out and about gadget. I love this thing- you know how you get something new and your old things just go into the shade? It’s got the voice of “Daniel” which is what you hear on the Kings Cross tannoy.
‘You programme your routes and landmarks into it – I’ve got about 29 routes and landmarks. You can put, say, someone’s house in and it will tell you when you’re there so that’s really useful for getting around. It tells you where the pedestrian crossings are and things like that – the dog will do so much but I’m planning for his retirement, he’ll retire when he’s about nine years old.’
The technology Stephen talks about doesn’t come cheaply.
For example, the Penfriend costs about £70.00, the Daisy and Viktor bookreader both cost around £300.00 and the Trekker Breeze costs a whopping £550.00.
However, thanks to your donations, GLFB ‘s members are able to provide advice and support on the best types of equipment available to help people live fulfilling, independent lives.