Charity scheme offering free Alexas to those with sight loss

People living with sight loss in the UK can now apply for a free Alexa, thanks to the British Wireless for the Blind Fund

Young man sitting on the couch and looking at his smart phone. Smart speaker is placed on a table in the living room

People living with sight loss can now apply for a free Alexa, thanks to a new charity initiative.

The British Wireless for the Blind Fund (BWBF) is hoping that its offer will make life easier for those living with visual impairments.

The ability to control Alexa by voice and without buttons or on-screen controls means it can be a great option for people with sight loss, BWBF said.

However, the charity believes that many of those they support are not currently using the technology.

To bridge the gap, BWBF is offering those in receipt of certain disability or income-related benefits an Echo Show or an Echo Dot device.

People must have an internet connection at home in order to claim their Alexa.

BWBF has teamed up with digital accessibility charity, AbilityNet, to ensure that those receiving a device have the help they need to set up and familiarise themselves with the technology.

Support could include setting up an Amazon account and activating the new device.

Chris Grant, community relationship officer at AbilityNet, noted that “digital accessibility is possible when the right technology comes together with the right support and guidance.”

He added: “Our network of community-based volunteers helps people use all kinds of digital technology. We are thrilled to support BWBF’s new Alexa scheme, and help more people reap the benefits we know this technology can offer for someone living with sight loss.”

Sophie Jones, chief executive of BWBF, said: “For lots of us, Alexa is already like a member of the family. But, despite the obvious advantages for someone living with sight loss, we know that many aren’t benefitting from this technology. This could be down to the cost of buying a smart speaker, or barriers setting up and using these devices.

“We believe no one living with sight loss should miss out on the audio experiences others might take for granted. By offering these devices for free and teaming up with AbilityNet to ensure the support is there to get started, we can help people living with sight loss embrace all that Alexa has to offer.”

People can apply for themselves or on behalf of someone else online.