New tech support service has helped you stay connected

Posted: Tuesday 24 March 2020
Woman using enlarged reading material on tablet

Whatever our level of sight, it’s hard to ignore just how thoroughly technology has worked its way into all our lives. And with coronavirus making it difficult or impossible to meet up in person, our new service has helped members find new ways of getting connected.

Earlier this year our tech-minded volunteers started remotely answering queries about e-readers, smartphones and other accessible tech. Within weeks, volunteers had talked members through adjusting their Kindles, setting up smart speakers and making their first video calls.

One of the first to volunteer was Ron Barnett. He says: “I’ve worked with computers since 1978 – that’s four years before IBM launched their PC, so it’s sort of in my blood!” In the last few months he’s used his knowledge of tech to troubleshoot everything from videocalling to home assistants. He continues: “Quite a few people are interested in smart speakers such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home: what they can do with them and how to get the best out of them.”

Macular Society member Jill Jones wanted to use WhatsApp to speak to her family in Italy, but found that calls were getting cut off before she’d had time to find her glasses and magnifier. She mentioned her difficulty to regional manager Marian Williams and within a couple of days, Ron got in touch.

“He spent around 40 minutes talking me through where the various icons were on the screen, and getting me to practise making  call,” Jill says. Speaking to someone else with a macular condition was a real help, she says: “Ron definitely knows his stuff, and more importantly he understood the problem

I was having. I would definitely recommend the service to someone else having the same problem.”

Rom says it’s been a flexible and enjoyable way to volunteer. "I’ve been doing a couple of jobs a week I guess, but haven’t been counting. It’s certainly fun and fulfilling.”

Connect by Tech volunteers can see and comment on all of the queries that come in, but answer only those they’re confident about. “That means you can pick up and pass on tips, even if you don’t take on the job,” says Ron.

Despite his forty-plus years working with technology, Ron still uses low-tech aids too. He says: “The thing I’d be lost without is my Android phone, but for getting the best of that I need my collection of handheld magnifying glasses, so it’s a bit of a double act.”

Could you be a Connect by Tech volunteer?

We’re looking for people to help our members:

• set up their home assistants

• shop online

• make video calls

• listen to audiobooks or music

• make the most of smartphones and tablet computers.

Register your interest or call 01264 326 622.

Or if you are stumped by your smartphone or other devices