Thanks to The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB), Amazon can now provide essential information about living with sight loss through its voice assistant, Alexa.

RNIB has worked with Amazon so that Alexa users will instantly be able to hear RNIB-verified information using voice commands such as:

  • Alexa, how do I register as sight impaired or severely sight impaired?
  • Alexa, what assistive technology do blind people use?
  • Alexa, what should I do if I think I’m losing my sight?

This partnership will allow Alexa to provide information directly from the charity’s Sight Loss Advice Service. It has also anticipated that the tool will help improve the accessibility of online information for more than two million people across the UK who are living with sight loss after RNIB research revealed that vision impairment remains a major barrier to accessing the internet.

The charity also noted that more than half of blind and partially sighted people (54%) say their sight loss is a barrier to using the internet. Nearly two thirds (61%) had reported feeling unable to make the most of new technology, with many mentioning accessibility issues.

Dolly McLoughlin, 71, started losing her sight in her forties due to retinitis pigmentosa, saying that she finds it difficult to keep up to date with technology developments, and researching on the internet is challenging for her.

She said: “Alexa is different. I can just ask her questions and she will tell me the answer. Listening to music, the radio and my audiobooks through Alexa is wonderful, but getting direct information – like a short biography of an author, or the synopsis of a play I’m interested in – is priceless. It’s fantastic that organisations like RNIB are starting to use it in this way and I hope more companies will follow.”

David Clarke, director of services at RNIB, said: “Voice assistant technology is playing an ever-increasing role in transforming the lives of blind and partially sighted people.

“Voice assistants can enable independence, helping to break down accessibility barriers to a more inclusive society.”

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