Amazon’s Alexa now has a new function to aid blind users after the company partnered with the Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB).
Users of Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology can now say, “Alexa, call RNIB helpline” in order to get in contact with the service.
The helpline’s opening hours are Monday-Friday, 8am-8pm; and Saturday, 9am-1pm.
It helps people with sight loss, and those who support them, with a range of services, including advice on issues like employment, education and technology, and support to adapt to life with sight loss by way of peer support and counselling services.
The helpline is also able to provide callers with practical assistance around accessing information, adapting your home, and getting around within you community.
This is just the first in a long line of accessibility features that have been added to Alexa.
They include a ‘voice view screen reader’, a screen magnifier, and the option to ask Alexa to speak either slower or faster.
“Having Alexa in the home allows me to go about my day without facing as many barriers as I usually do,” said Dr Amit Patel, disability rights campaigner and motivational speaker. “The Accessibility Hub hosts information on a range of features on Alexa such as Show & Tell and the new RNIB Helpline service which let me live more independently.
“I can control my home, connect with loves ones and identify hard to recognise objects all through my Echo device using my voice.”
Meanwhile, Dennis Stansbury, Alexa’s UK country manager, added: “This is the next step in our collaboration with the RNIB, as part of our ongoing commitment to developing Alexa’s accessibility features.
“The new ‘Alexa Call RNIB Helpline’ calling feature is another great way of helping our blind and partially sighted customers to feel more independent and connected by simply using voice commands.”