Making a difference: Mary’s story

Making a difference: Mary’s story

ACE IT often works with other organisations to provide the best level of support to individuals. We worked closely with the Edinburgh Smart Home to support Mary, a woman with significant sight loss.

Mary is 91 and has very limited vision. When ACE IT started visiting her sheltered accommodation last year, she turned up thinking she wouldn’t be able to use a digital device because of her sight. Thankfully, ACE IT Outreach Worker Linda was able to prove her wrong!

“I had an Apple iPad with me, and I showed it to her,” said Linda, “and increased things like the font size and the contrast, and she was really quite surprised that she could see things on the iPad if the font was of an appropriate size and contrast. And she was absolutely delighted with that.”

Linda showed Mary the Magnifier app, which allowed her to view her letters and correspondence. The main difference between a digital magnifier and a traditional one was the ability to increase the contrast, and the backlight made it much easier for Mary to see.

Mary was understandably delighted as her world opened up again. She said: “I can now read documents, I can see biro, I can read my postcards, I can see photos of my friends and family, and it is total magic. It’s completely changed my life because I honestly was not sure what the future would hold. But now, because of ACE IT, I’m set!”

A woman sitting in a chair laughing

As Linda continued to work with Mary, she realised she would benefit from some more in-depth digital intervention, so she contacted Annie at the Edinburgh Smart Home. The Smart Home is an inclusive living space run by the Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership with a range of technology within the house. The team are able to help people in Edinburgh with assistive technology, including loaning devices that might help them, as well as looking at the bigger picture and working with other organisations to best support an individual’s needs.

When Annie met with Mary, “we compiled a list of things that were important to her. Part of that was accessing music. She was a musician, but she was unable to read sheet music anymore and even identifying and getting a piece of music that she wanted to play was difficult by the time she went through her records or her CDs.”

Annie added: “We spoke about the benefits of an Amazon Alexa device and we loaned her an Echo Dot and we set that up to a music subscription for her. Even though she’s 91, she was very quick to pick up how to use it using technology and commands.”

Annie also helped Mary get a smart TV which she can control using Alexa voice commands, as well as introducing her to a range of other services.

Mary told us: “Annie introduced me to Taxicard, Dialaride and Dialabus [services ran by HcL Transport] and also to benefits I was entitled to. She’s been absolutely incredible, and again it’s all thanks to you. Between you, you’ve changed my life.”

Working with Annie at the Smart Home has enabled Mary to receive a level of support that ACE IT wouldn’t be able to provide alone. Annie is continuing to work with Mary on an ongoing basis to make sure she is as independent as possible with the help of technology.

“She’s accessing the tech in a different way,” said Annie. “She’s able to ask Alexa what the weather is, she can ask Alexa questions that rather than her trying to find the information in a visual way, even playing the radio is much better for her. Having the Alexa devices where she’s able to use her voice has really opened up her world. And it’s fascinating, it doesn’t matter what age you are, it just highlights that you’re able to access technology at any age.”

To get help and advice on using assistive technology in your home, contact the Smart Home through this webpage.