Tech Selector launched by Vision Partnership

Author: Guide Dogs' Information and Advice Team
Marie uses her smart phone to take a photo of her horse, stood outside. A field, houses and trees are in the background.

Technology is increasingly an essential part of daily life for people with a vision impairment (VI), enabling more independence and mobility. It’s also evolving every day with smart home products, artificial intelligence, mobility devices and navigation apps coming into the mix. For the blind and partially sighted community these developments could mean a renewed freedom both inside and outside the home, but we know it can sometimes be a struggle to identify the right tech that’s relevant for you.

Guide Dogs has been working with a range of sight loss sector partners and those with lived experience of vision impairment (the Vision Partnership) to find solutions to this problem and are proud to announce the launch of Tech Selector.

The Tech Selector is a web-based tool that will be hosted on the Guide Dogs website on behalf of the wider partnership. It will enable people to find a list of technology products, apps and software that could be useful for someone with VI. You can select different category filters to tailor the search results to whatever best fits your needs and circumstances. 

Technology Content Officer and guide dog owner Siobhan Meade says:

“Tech Selector is an innovative solution aimed at enhancing the tech journey for people with vision impairments, their friends, family, and professionals. This tool will provide recommendations based on information about their intended use, general tech confidence, and interface preferences.

“By guiding users to the appropriate technology and resources, the Tech Selector empowers people to make informed choices about the products that will best suit their needs at any stage of their tech journey.”

The Vision Partnership is made up of: Blind Veterans UK, Glaucoma UK, Guide Dogs, Macular Society, Retina UK, RNIB, Thomas Pocklington Trust and Visionary.

The project also benefitted from ongoing input from Henshaws Society for Blind People, Outlookers and the Technology Association of Vision Impaired People (TAVIP). The tool evolved from an idea originally put forward by TAVIP.

Tech Selector should work for people without much tech knowledge as well as seasoned users of accessible technologies. It promises to dramatically reduce the time and effort required to explore available solutions, making it quicker and easier to find what you need. We hope this will result in people being able to take full advantage of technology to enhance their daily lives.

Marie Howarth, from Oldham, was born with a rare sight condition called primary congenital glaucoma and is registered as severely sight impaired. As a young child she had only some sight in her left eye. At age six she had surgeries to release pressure, which resulted in a detached retina and she lost her remaining sight.

Marie has been involved with Guide Dogs since her early twenties when she was partnered with her first guide dog. Her second guide dog, Bertie, has just retired so she’s using a cane while waiting for her third dog.

As a young woman with a vision impairment, Marie says her life is massively improved by two things – her guide dog and technology.

Marie says: “I use technology in almost every part of my life. I couldn’t be without my Apple iPhone and I manage my home with smart technology and use various apps and devices in my daily life.

“The accessibility of third-party apps can still be a bit hit and miss. I always try free apps first, and I’d never pay for an app unless I could be sure it’s completely accessible.”

Tech Selector could help Marie by providing her with this kind of information at her fingertips. Once you’ve identified potential technology solutions that could work for you, the site will signpost to further information from national and local sight loss organisations.

Working alongside our existing technology guides, which have more general information and advice, we hope this new tool will empower people with VI by delivering personalised recommendations for tech products and services tailored precisely to your needs.

"Tech Selector represents a significant leap forward in our mission to foster greater independence and accessibility for individuals with vision impairments," says Sarah Brandwood, Senior Product Manager at Guide Dogs.

"By streamlining the process of discovering and selecting accessible technologies, we aim to minimise the barriers that often impede the adoption of these life-changing solutions.

"Accessibility should never be an afterthought; it should be at the forefront of every technological innovation.”

Tech Selector will be kept up to date with new information and guidance. New products will be added to the tool, selected and reviewed by experts and those with lived experience to ensure it is a useful source of information for the sight loss community.

Explore the Tech Selector

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Author: Guide Dogs' Information and Advice Team

Guide Dogs’ Information and Advice Team provides vital resources for people with sight loss to help them live the life they choose. We have information on an array of topics to answer queries about living with sight loss.

Author: Guide Dogs' Information and Advice Team

Guide Dogs’ Information and Advice Team provides vital resources for people with sight loss to help them live the life they choose. We have information on an array of topics to answer queries about living with sight loss.

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