Our Digital Enablement Service helps visually impaired people get connected with tech

Are you struggling to read books, newspapers, letters or product labels? Do you find it more difficult to keep in touch with friends and family?
Through assessments and training, our Digital Enablement team are here to find tech solutions regardless of sight level, age, or technical ability. And during the pandemic lockdown, it has never been more important for us to help blind and visually impaired people get connected with the use of technology.


Due to the pandemic lockdown we haven’t been able to support our blind and visually impaired service users in our conventional way by meeting up face-to-face at venues across Great Manchester. But that’s not to say we haven’t been busy – far from it! Over the past 12 weeks, the Digital Enablement team have been supporting people with all their technology needs. We have made over 1,468 telephone calls, supporting 925 people with assessments and technology training.

We wanted to share an example of how we have supported one individual, called Phil who is 67 years old.  We hear from Paul, our Assistive Technology Tutor, who is based in St. Helens, about how he has supported this service user.

Image shows a member of Henshaws staff demonstrating a smartphone to a visually impaired man.

Initial assessment

Phil attended an assessment in person a few months ago, to ask for help in making his Android mobile phone more accessible. He does have some experience, although he lacks confidence using digital technology.

At the initial assessment, I went through the various accessibility features available with Phil, showing him how to use magnification gestures and Google Assistant.  He was very impressed, as this would make things far easier for him to navigate his phone.

Phil also has an Amazon Fire tablet; he has had the tablet for some time, but has not been able to receive emails for almost six months! The tablet is his preferred device, as he can see the screen more clearly. A follow-up training session was arranged to help Phil with his tablet – but unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 lockdown, the session was not able to proceed as planned.

Training session during lockdown

During lockdown, I have been able to help Phil remotely to gain access to his emails. Phil also required support to navigate to the Amazon App Store, in order to download YouTube.

He had some technical issues relating to his mobile phone, where Messenger had become the default app for text messages. I guided Phil through the process of restoring the default text messaging app, and also gave him instructions on using Messenger and WhatsApp.

I was also able to help Phil install the House Party app and create an account, in order to interact with friends and family for a virtual pub quiz!

Phil is so grateful for the help and support given, and is now feeling more confident using his phone and tablet.

Thank you so much. I don’t know what I would have done without you!

Phil, aged 67

Image shows a member of the Digital Enablement Team sat at a desk with several laptops on.

We're still here to help!

Our support is totally free and includes technology assessments, training and telephone support. We also have three monthly meetings called ‘TechTalk’ – we usually meet up in venues in Trafford, Oldham and Bolton, however we are currently delivering the sessions by video and telephone conferencing.

If you would like any help with your existing equipment or want to discuss how new technologies could help you, then please do not hesitate and get in touch with our Digital Enablement Team on 0300 222 5555 or email us at info@henshaws.org.uk

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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.

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