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Top smart tech tips

Graphic of a house with various icons around it, including a lock, thermostat and the text 'smart home'

Stuart Beveridge of SeeScape Fife gives a great summary of some helpful apps, smart tech and connectivity, which can really make a difference to many people who are blind or have low vision.

APPS

IRAA

Android, iOS, Paid for app

A video service to call a trained agent if you’re having any problems with navigation or identifying items. They will assist you through the camera in your phone.

Amazon

Android, iOS

Nice, accessible, easy to use app that provides an easy online shopping experience. You double tap the ‘buy’ button and that’s it. It’s fully accessible.

Amazon Alexa

Android, iOS

The app allows you to see the status of your devices, use it for setting up devices and view routines. If you want to add new skills, you may need to use the app.

Audible

Android, iOS, subscription service

Access to audiobooks and podcasts, which you can also listen to through your Amazon Echo and you’ll have access to books across your devices.

Banking app

Access online banking through your bank’s app. I get immediate notifications of unauthorised activity. This happened just recently – my account was hacked and I caught it straight away through the app so I was able to cancel my cards straight away.

Be My Eyes

Android, iOS, free app

Similar to the IRAA app, but this is volunteer-based. It’s a great app and people love it and have a fantastic experience. You can now also call the Microsoft disability desk through it, as well as the Google helpdesk so it’s great to see new services being added.

BlindSquare

iOS, paid for app

A GPS navigation app.

Amazon Echo

There is a podcast called Dot to Dot by a person who is blind which is really worth subscribing to. It gives loads of tips and information and there are around 1,000 episodes.

I have my Echo connected to by Dyson robot hoover. So I just have to say “Alexa, ask Dyson for robot status” and she’ll tell me if it’s charged or needs to be charged. “Alexa, ask Dyson to start cleaning”. The hoover remembers where it has been if it runs out of charge.

I can set up calendars, although this doesn’t come built-in so you need the Alexa app. Go to the update calendar section and synch it with my Microsoft calendar. Then I can say “Alexa, add doctor’s appointment to calendar” and it’s added to my phone and to Outlook calendar because they’re already synched.

I use reminders and find it very handy. I can add reminders to tell me to put the blue bin out on Tuesday and it’ll ping me to remember. It’s so simple yet so effective. There is actually a skill called bin calendar, if you input the dates it will then remind you what bin is due to go out.

Smart heating and lighting

I’ve been in my house eight years and I could never get my heating working by myself. Now, I use Hive, which is fully accessible and is connected to all my devices. I also use smart light bulbs and have my lighting connected to Echo or my phone so that I can turn lights on or off and dim them.

Smart plugs

I use a smart plug for a kettle that dispenses one cup of boiling water. I have the plug connected to my Echo so I can then tell Alexa to boil the kettle and have it dispense the hot water.

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