Technology and computers

Technology toolkit to help with your life

Technology can make all the difference in managing your life when you are blind or have low vision. It can allow you to stay in touch with the world – and participate in it.

A man and a woman sitting in front of a computer

It can help you keep in contact with people and keep up to date with the world. You can use it to help manage your personal information and online banking.  Using the right technology can also enable you to study and work.

The Blind Foundation can help you identify a technology toolkit that will meet your needs – whatever you want to do.

To find out how the Blind Foundation can help you with your technology needs call 0800 24 33 33 or email generalenquiries@blindfoundation.org.nz  If you want quick advice, you can also use the Blind Foundation Adaptive Technology Help Desk – you’ll find all the details for that below.

What technology is best for me?

There are a lot of technology options nowadays that can help you.

Apple’s iPhones, iPads and Mac computers are made in a way that makes it possible for those with vision loss to use. Similarly, Windows computers have some built in functions such as screen enhancements, narrator and magnifier.   There are also devices created to meet the specific needs of people who are blind or have low vision.

We can advise and help you with devices so that you can make technology work for you – it all depends on what best suits your needs.

Some of the technology tools that may help you are:

Screen readers

Screen readers read aloud what is on your screen. They also read out menu, file and folder information, and dialogue boxes. Screen readers work on PCs, laptops, tablets like the iPad, and smartphones.

Screen magnifiers

Screen magnifiers enlarge the size of what you see on your screen. You can also use it to customise what you see – colour and contrast, for example.

Electronic braille devices

You can use a standalone device or one that connects to your PC, laptop, smartphone, iPad or other tablet. Can’t read braille but would like to learn? Find out more in the Braille section.

Mobile apps

This is a world that just keeps on growing.  More and more apps to help those who are blind or have low vision are becoming available.

Available apps include a colour identifier, a money reader, GPS and book readers. Many apps not specifically designed for those who are blind or who have low vision are also accessible. These can provide access to bus timetables, newspapers, online shopping and banking, Microsoft Word and Skype to name a few.

Specially designed devices

Sometimes called adaptive technology, these devices have been developed with the specific needs of blind and low vision people in mind. They include scan-and-read devices, audio and music players, and personal organisers and diaries.

The following companies are NZ Suppliers of adaptive technology devices:

Making your technology toolkit work for you

Once you have the technology that will best meets your needs, the Blind Foundation team can, if needed, train you in how to use it.  That means you will be able to keep in contact with people and manage daily living, study or work activities.

You can learn with any combination of one-on-one or group sessions with a Blind Foundation staff member, online resources and peer support.

If you are studying or working, you might need particular equipment, or modifications to existing equipment or a workplace environment, to suit your needs.  You may need some training. A Blind Foundation Employment Consultant can work with you around the process for this.

Who is eligible

Technology training and support is free for all Blind Foundation adult clients. School-age students may be eligible. This can be considered on a case-by-case basis when support is required outside the school curriculum.

For some courses you will need prior skills, e.g. a computer course will require keyboarding skills. One on one training can be provided to help you develop these skills. If you’re looking to do an advanced course, then you will need to complete a basic one first if you don’t already have the required entry skills.

There may be a small cost for some training materials.

All about the AT Help Desk

The Adaptive Technology (AT) Help Desk is just a phone call away.  We can help you with your adaptive technology questions.

Support might include helping you with your screen reader, magnification software or braille devices. Or with the built-in accessibility features that may be found on some devices like iPhones, iPads and some tablets and mobile phones.

Unfortunately, the Blind Foundation team can’t help you with general hardware issues, such as hardware faults or computer viruses. We also can’t set up or maintain your computer, or transfer data to new devices. Nor can we set up internet access or email, or installing or updating anti-virus software. Perhaps a friend or family member can help you?

Contacting the AT Help Desk

If no-one is available when you call the AT Help Desk on 0800 24 33 33 just leave a voice message. Tell us about your problem and include your phone number with the area code. We will get back to you within two working days.