Webwatch: Amazon’s virtual assistant teams up with RNIB to offer sight loss advice

Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa is to offer information to people with sight loss as part of a new scheme.

The technology company has worked with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) to create a new bank of information for users.

Voice assistant Alexa will now provide information directly from the charity’s Sight Loss Advice Service in response to queries such as “Alexa, how do I register as sight impaired or severely sight impaired?”

According to the charity, more than half of partially sighted people (54%) claim their sight loss is a barrier to the internet.

Nearly two thirds (61%) say they feel unable to make the most of new technology because of accessibility issues.

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.

“Members of our Connect Community tell us they often use voice assistants, like Alexa, to stay up to date with the latest news and information, and many say they find it easier to use than screen-based tech, like smart phones, tablets or computers.

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

“By using this technology to increase the reach of our own resources, we are ensuring that people can immediately get essential information about sight conditions, their rights, and the support available, simply by asking out loud.”

Users will also be able ask Alexa about the kind of assistive technology blind people use, and advice on what to do if they think they are losing their sight.

Dennis Stansbury, Alexa UK country manager, said: “We love hearing feedback from customers about how they use Alexa throughout their day – whether that’s listening to music, setting alarms and timers, or making an announcement at home that dinner is ready.

“We are delighted that customers can now access information from the RNIB website using voice technology.”

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