Over the last month, as part of the collaboration with Westward Housing Association, we’ve been working with several tenants on a one to one basis to help them learn new skills around using digital devices and interacting online. One of these tenants is Karren from Torquay.
Karren first became aware of the Positive People project through one of our launch events in her area. Karren came along to find out more about all things digital and what the project might offer her in support. Already using a smartphone and computer regularly she wanted to learn more and make better use of them on a daily basis. With sight issues making this harder she wanted some support specifically around this area to allow her to interact more easily with digital devices.
Our initial formal meeting after the launch event was to work through a digital assessment together. Ascertaining current digital knowledge and identifying any gaps to focus on at future sessions. With so many topics and areas in the digital world it can sometimes be hard to see what’s important and relevant to an individual and gives us as trainers a good starting point to work from.
At the first hands on training session together we installed and trialed an on-screen reader app called NVDA. This is a free piece of software that reads aloud selected text and words on screen and offers some improvements on the built-in narrator software offered by Microsoft. Its not an easy piece of software to use initially and compared to some of the paid for and expensive competitors doesn’t have the most fluid and user-friendly interface. We particularly didn’t like the robotic voices on offer but were soon able to change this to something more human sounding. We’ve been making good progress with this and Karren is now able to use this app whenever it’s needed to support her in using her laptop.
Later sessions have focused on online communicating. With a particular emphasis on sending information and enquires to companies. We’ve submitted an online enquiry to Karren’s housing association regarding maintenance of bushes at the rear of her property and await their response.
Karren had also received a letter from her electricity supplier asking for a meter reading. Submitting this online wouldn’t have been consider by Karren previously but with our support she was willing to give anything a try. Although initially setting up an account was tricky once we had this in place submitting the meter reading was easy. Getting past the spiders in the outside cupboard on the other hand was a whole other challenge!
Next on the list Karren wants help to speed up her laptop, “it’s one of those laptops with a tiny brain” she says, and to be shown how to use Skype to be able to make video calls to friends and family. We look forward to continuing to work with Karren on her digital journey.