SeeAbility’s specialist teams working to reduce isolation and promote education opportunities to ensure that people with learning disabilities, autism and sight loss are able to access the latest technology to get connected and grow their independence.
Introducing voice activated home assistants, like Amazon’s Echo Dot, opens up whole worlds of possibilities for the people we support to live with greater independence. Using the Echo Dot is one of the easiest ways for someone with sight loss to verbally access the internet and gain immediate auditory response. It helps people do everything from turning on their favourite music to searching the internet for information and sharing ideas with others. It’s hugely empowering and gives individuals greater control in their lives.
Group activity and skills sessions at the Millennium Centre in Surrey have taken on a new energy and are far more interactive since the introduction of the Echo Dot. This new gadget has transformed everything from our music workshops to keep fit sessions.
Learning to make voice commands has taken time and a lot of support from Our Vision Rehabilitation and Speech and Language Therapy teams. At first the people we support had to learn how to ask short, factual questions that that could be deciphered by the Echo Dot. Some people may have struggled with getting their words out in time but everyone enjoys having their questions answered so they persevered.
Sessions now offer a more inclusive experience since the Echo Dot has been embedded. In fact, our volunteers and specialist teams can engage more with the people they are supporting now that the voice activated technology is on hand to offer up answers to tricky questions.
Workshops have more spontaneous interaction and people are developing confidence to lead conversations.
Anne says: “With Alexa it means you can hear lots of different types of music in the same session. We all get to request what we want on it. It’s made our music slot so much more fun.”
David, who has a love of folk and blue grass music, uses Alexa to play obscure tracks as part of his music session. He says: “Alexa helps me find rare tracks and I enjoy hearing and singing along with my favourite songs and sharing them with my friends. It brings us closer.”
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