On Global Accessibility Awareness Day, 21 May 2020, we speak to Brenda Edhouse about how the SmartSpeaker Alexa has enriched her life.

Brenda Edhouse’s life is better with her SmartSpeaker Alexa.

She listens to Blind Low Vision NZ’s library catalogue, sets reminders to take her medicine and to check the cooking, listens to the radio, and she even checks in on the Covid-19 case numbers – all by using her voice.

“It’s made a big difference to me. The best part about the smart speaker is accessing books.”

Blind Low Vision NZ designed a ‘skill’ for Alexa which allows library members to access more than 35,000 audio books as well as magazines and newspapers by telling it a couple of commands.

“It’s great – I can search for books by author and I have been able to stumble across and enjoy books that I might not have known about otherwise.”

She has been reading a book everyday and has valued it so much during Covid-19 lockdown.

Brenda has Macular Degeneration. She has lost central vision in her right eye and her left eye is deteriorating. To be able to use a device that relies on sound instead of sight has made her life easier.

A volunteer helped Brenda set up the device and originally she only used it to access Blind Low Vision NZ’s library but her grandchildren helped her branch out.

“As soon as they came round, they were asking Alexa all sorts of things. It comes so naturally to them.

“In fact when their mother accidentally locked herself in a room, their first thought was to ask Alexa for help, and the last thing they thought of was to ring their father.”

She encourages all library members to get in touch with Blind Low Vision NZ to set up an Alexa.

“It has made a great difference in my life. There’s nothing to worry about. A volunteer comes and helps with the set-up, and Blind Low Vision NZ are only a phone call away if you have any issues.”

If you are a library member, get in touch with Blind Low Vision NZ on 0800 24 33 33 or info@blindlowvision.org.nz to ask about an Alexa.