Updated: Apr 12
Team VIP World is teaching visually impaired people (VIP) to use Zoom software to conduct calls with volunteers such as YOU. Register with us to speak to a VIP online.
The world has come to a standstill because of a pandemic that no one imagined could be possible. A lot of people have lost their lives, their loved ones, and their dreams. There is a lot of uncertainty and anxiety about what will happen next.
"I feel fear for my family and friends like everyone else. I fear to lose all my savings like a lot of people. I fear what I don't know what to fear. So, I had to speak to someone. I called up my friends and family. I could sense the same fear and somehow my anxiety increased. I called a VIP friend to check how he is doing. Something very different came out of the conversation. My VIP friend said let me tell you how we live our lives and taught me, Have PATIENCE. Follow the instructions step by step from the Government. Focus on small details. And most importantly, never lose HOPE"
MOVING AHEAD AND FORWARD
In the first week into lockdown in the UK, the Team at VIP World was wondering;
"How can we bring the Visually Impaired People (VIP) to online platforms such as Zoom, Microsoft Team or Duo to engage communally?"
We read the accessibility manuals from each of the online tools and software available. Although Microsoft has extensively designed its UI for inclusivity, we picked Zoom because of the availability of easy short cut keys for Macintosh, and Windows and easier navigation in Android and Apple devices for the VIP. Also, the popularity of Zoom over others inclined us to choose Zoom. The next steps were to install and test the Zoom software on different platforms. We came up with a zoom installation manual by editing an audio instruction manual to install Zoom software on Smartphones and Computers. The idea was to test if the VIP is able to use these instructions and install the application by themselves easily. Well, we had mixed results.
WHY IS IT DIFFICULT FOR VIP TO INSTALL SOFTWARE?
Most of the VIP struggle to use their smartphones and computers using in-built phone voiceover software or assistive technology features in the computers. This is because of two reasons primarily:
1. Lack of Practice
They have to keep practicing the shortcuts and follow the instructions for using assistive tech. In simple words, using assistive technology embarks not using the mouse pad at all and not looking at the screen. The instructions are given to the computer through the keyboard to hear back through speakers. As an example for people with sight, it is not a big deal at all to open an email and reply back with a document attachment. If a VIP is using a Windows operating system, to achieve the same objective will require-
To start -[Press Windows Key]
Automatically takes the user to the search box -[Type Firefox]
The computer responds with the list of Softwares -[Press Enter to open Mozilla Firefox]
By default, Google opens up on the browser -[Press Insert + F7]
A list of links in that particular page opens up -[Press down arrow key or up arrow key to hear all links, Once you find Gmail, Press Enter]
(There are multiple ways to find Gmail link such as pressing Tab till you find it)
6. Let's assume you have already logged in to your Gmail account so your inbox opens up. Now, you need to go to the basic HTML Gmail configuration to make the navigation easier to operate -[Press F9]
7. To reach the Email list faster -[Press H]
8. Once you find the Email you want to reply -[Press Enter]
9. To read the information about the Sender and subject of the Email -[Keep Pressing N]
10. To find the Reply button -[Keep Pressing Tab and then Enter]
11. To reach the add attachment button -[Keep Pressing Tab and then Enter]
12. In the dialog box list -[Type the name of the file or scroll Down or Up arrow to scroll]
and so on.
2. Lack of Inclusively designed or Accessible software
If the software (websites, apps) designed do not follow the WCAG guidelines set by World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the VIP users (also other disabled users) struggle to follow the instructions correctly and get lost in the process. In the example shared above, imagine if Gmail was not inclusive to the demands of the VIP in Step 4, the user would not find the Gmail link.
Despite challenges, we were able to install the software on the computers of many VIPs. But, we need a lot of help from other people, organizations, and charities to help the VIPs to engage and conduct activities online.
To start with, we have started a Weekly Wednesday 10 am Zoom session for all VIPs to join us and ask any technical questions they have regarding using Zoom or any other device. A panel of assistive technology tutors gives tips and advice on the doubts presented by VIPs.
Our aim is to empower the VIP to participate in the calls and engage with each other and with YOU. We need volunteers to conduct calls with the VIPs so that everyone can
Please register with us by visiting our COVID 19 Counter Attack page
We may all know how big a struggle it is for a VIP to walk alone on the busy streets. We may now realize what it feels to sit at home not knowing what to do next. I always believe in taking the problem head-on. These words from my VIP friend are keeping me moving forward.
"Have PATIENCE. Follow the instructions step by step from the Government. Focus on small details. And most importantly, never lose HOPE"
If you have any more questions, please email me at email@example.com