Up to 200 blind and visually impaired people are to be trained to use a package of smartphone apps that can help with communication and everyday tasks, with £14,000 of funding allocated by the UK government.
The training is for an app bundle for Android smartphones named “Georgie”, developed by husband and wife Roger and Margaret Wilson-Hinds through their company Screenreader.net. The apps help blind and visually impaired people operate smartphones using functions such as voice-assisted touch-screen operation, and also help people with daily tasks such as catching public transport, reading printed text aloud and navigation outdoors (see also our previous report on the apps – full link: www.headstar.com/eablive/?p=751 Short link: bit.ly/X8zS7I ).
The free training sessions will be available at 30 locations across the UK with funding from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) provided to the charity Communication for Blind People, the parent organisation of Screenreader.net. As well as funding the trainers’ time, the money will help buy phones and develop learning resources including Braille and large print manuals, Tim Carrington, Screenreader.net’s business development manager, told E-Access Bulletin.
The app training programme is part of a three million pound government funding project entitled Strengthening Disabled People’s User Led Organisations, launched in July 2011.
“A training session will enable a hesitant smartphone user to learn how Georgie can provide them with the confidence to better venture out into the world”, Carrington told E-Access Bulletin. “Trainers will provide hands-on use of Georgie to Blind Association staff who will go on to act as local learning champions, to support Georgie users and direct them to web pages and other learning resources once the trainer has left.”
Local maps and data will also be integrated into the sessions, Carrington said. For example, one of Georgie’s features is a bus app, and this will use local information to help users find their nearest bus stop, see bus times and find out when to get off at the right stop.
Sessions will begin in May, and blind and visually impaired people can find out more by emailing: mailto:email@example.com.