3 blind life hacks for working in an office when you can’t see

Alex, RLSB Tech Officer explaining different types of tools and apps that vision impaired people can use for work

As a blind person I’m often asked how I work in an office when I can’t see. As the Online Communities Assistant at RSBC, here are 3 life hacks that I use to get my job done every day.

KNFB Reader

KNFB Reader is an iOS and Android app that allows a blind person to take a picture of printed text which it then reads aloud. The app also allows the scan to be saved to Dropbox as a text document, and you can even import scanned images from emails.

I’ve found this dead handy when sitting in team meetings. Having KNFB Reader on my phone means I can get a paper hand out just like anyone else. I place it on the table, take a picture (it does take practice and sometimes a couple of goes) and within 2 seconds most of the text is read back to me. On good days I get the full text in one shot!

Google Docs

Google Docs allows people to write and share documents in realtime online. At work, we have a google Drive folder set-up with a variety of Google documents and Google sheets (spreadsheets). Using the NVDA (Non Visual Desktop Access) Screenreader, the platform is fully accessible to me. This means when working on a big project NVDA reads me the tasks assigned to me on the spreadsheet, and I can mark my progress by typing in things such as “Done” or “In progress.”

NVDA also reads out what part of the sheet my colleagues are on when we are working on a sheet together in real-time. This allows me to effectively track any changes that are being made at that moment. Before Google Docs, I would have to write a draft in a word document, email it across to a colleague and then await the emailed response with feedback. The fact that Google Docs is accessible has completely sped up the process.

My Braille Note apex

A Braille Note is a refreshable braille display that allows me to access braille electronically, write documents and access the web. The portable machine is fantastic for helping me when delivering presentations. All I have to do is write my notes in braille on the machine, and then I can deliver my presentation, silently reading my braille notes to ensure I stay on topic.

Get tech Savvy on our Employability programme

You too can learn how to use the latest tech to help you at work. If you’re 18-25 and vision impaired, why not find out more about our free Employability Programme?

We’ve even got a free Christmas Comes Early employability event on Wednesday 23 November. Come along and find out more about how we can help you get the skills employers are looking for, get involved in some fun festive activities, and meet with other new and current employability members.

What are you waiting for? We’d love to meet you there!


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