Volunteer tells of his experiences in giving time to charity
To mark Volunteers Week (June 1-7), Richard Asher has spoken about being a volunteer for sight loss charity RNIB Scotland.
Richard, 29, is part of the Edinburgh-based charity's Technology for Life team, advising blind and partially sighted people on the accessibility features now built-in to new technology that can help maximise their independence.
Such features include software that reads out text as speech, enlarging the size of fonts, and adjusting background colour contrast.
"In my volunteering role I help customers with technical devices like iPads or mobiles," explains Richard, who studied IT at Edinburgh College. "They bring these in to RNIB Scotland and can either have issues with them and need something looked into, such as their settings, or I can actually teach them how to first use their devices.
"I volunteer because I want to make a difference in people's lives. Making that difference, just seeing someone happy at the end of it, and seeing that they are confident using their devices, that is something really important. It's that the person can get the most out of the time they spend with me on learning. Or, if they do come with a problem, then that problem is sorted for them.
"Some people have been born without sight and they might have an older device, or might not have had a device before. I train them with the accessibility features, and how they can use the phone.
"Other people may have lost their sight later on, and they've known how to use a phone their entire life. And now they're saying, 'Oh my goodness, what am I going to do? I depend on this phone, I use this every day.' So what we focus on there is training them on how to use their phone in a different way.
"I'm a strong believer that anyone can use a phone. It's just about finding the right way There is sight loss in my own family so this volunteer role is something that's important to me for themselves, and that's what we focus on here - on making them independent in using these devices.
"But the main thing that I do get from it is if someone's walking out and they've gained from it and they're happy, then that's the main thing for me."
Players of the People’s Postcode Lottery are helping fund the running of RNIB connect groups, which provide a supportive online space where people with sight loss can use technology to connect with each other and share experiences.