Managing Social Isolation with Technology

There can be times when you feel, or are, socially isolated, making it harder for you to communicate with family and friends, access essential services and indulge in leisure activities.
If you have a visual impairment, this may pose extra challenges. Thanks to technology, there are ways in which you can manage social isolation. We outline some of our top tips below:

Use Assistive Apps

There are many apps that you can download for assistance with everyday tasks, from reading product labels to identifying colours to configuring inaccessible appliances.

If you are socially isolated, two apps that we highly recommend are Be My Eyes and BeSpecular. Both of these apps work on iOS and Android.

These apps allow you to receive assistance from a sighted volunteer.

Be My Eyes connects you to a sighted volunteer through a live video connection so that you can talk directly with the volunteer and they can tell you what they can see. The app uses the rear-facing camera so the volunteer can see what you want assistance with.

BeSpecular allows visually impaired people to take a photo of what they want help identifying along with a question, either as a voice message or text-based message, and one or more volunteers will respond.

Consider Online Shopping

If you are socially isolated, this could make it difficult for you to get to the shops. There are many accessible shopping apps and websites so if you need to, you can buy everything from food to electrical goods without leaving your home. Some retailors which have made their online shopping services accessible include Sainsbury’s and John Lewis.

Indulge in a good book

Reading can be a good way to take your mind off things if you are feeling socially isolated. Many services, for example Audible and Kindle, offer instant access to books either as e-book or audiobook format so you can access them directly from your smartphone, tablet or computer.

If you have an Amazon Echo, you can link it to your Audible and Kindle accounts and access books using Alexa.

Click here to find out more about services offering accessible books.

Photo of an Amazon Kindle

Catch up on TV or podcasts

TV providers are constantly making improvements to make their apps and websites accessible to their visually impaired viewers, and are increasing the availability and access to audio described content.

Click here to read our verdict on the accessibility of some of the most popular TV providers.

There are also a wide range of apps and websites for listening to podcasts on a wide range of topics. You can listen to podcasts using your smartphone, tablet or computer. If you have a smart speaker such as an Amazon Echo or Google Home, you can select a podcast using just your voice.

An assortment of six different Amazon Echo products, all differing in shapes and sizes.

Play an accessible game

There are many options for playing games using technology if you have a visual impairment. These include audio games, text-based games and games that you can play on smart speakers using Alexa or Google Assistant.

There are different types of games that you can play, from quizzes to word games to adventure games. There are games that you can play by yourself or with others, making gaming a social activity that you can do from your home.

If you want to find out more about options for accessible games, go here.

Gaming Headset

We hope that this gives you some ideas of how you can use technology to reduce and manage social isolation. The activities you can do with tech are wide-ranging so if you have any other ways you have used tech to reduce or manage social isolation, we’d love to hear them!

If you would like any more information about how you can access and use technology if you have sight loss, visit our online Knowledge Village where we have a huge selection of videos, blogs and eBooks discussing various apps and products.

You can also call us on 0300 222 5555 to speak to one of our Digital Enablement officers, or email us at

We can't do it without you

Henshaws rely on voluntary donations; our work just wouldn’t be possible without people like you. Your support empowers local people living with sight loss and a range of other disabilities to increase their independence, achieve their dreams, and go beyond expectations.

Donate now