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TAVIP Newsletter April 2023

Dear member,

Welcome to the new newsletter from TAVIP.

In my role as Chair, and through the emails, phone calls and zoom sessions that I attend each week I am able to keep abreast of the many projects that TAVIP is involved with, and the many ways in which we are supporting individuals to get the most out of their technology. However I know that it is harder for other members to feel up to date, and a number of you told us that you miss the newsletter which we used to send out.

Therefore we will be sending out this short newsletter every two months or so with updates on TAVIP activities and also any tech news which we think you might find interesting.

TAVIP is all about member participation, so if you would like to suggest topics, submit a short article or share a short tech-related member biography please send content to and we will do our best to include them in future editions.

We hope you find the newsletter interesting and that you will feel up to date on life at TAVIP!

On a personal note, after many happy years in the role, I am planning to stand down as the Chair of TAVIP at the Annual General Meeting in November, so if taking on the role is something that you would like to explore do get in touch with me for an informal conversation at

Kind regards,

Jeff Bashton, Chair of TAVIP.


Tech Chat

Our regular monthly Tech Chat session will be taking place on zoom this Thursday 6 April from 7.30pm to 9.00pm. All of you are welcome to bring questions and queries about any tech issues you may be having and if we don’t have an immediate answer we’ll find out and get back to you! Our zoom link is


TAVIP Masterclasses

We launched our new Masterclass series this month with a really interesting session looking at the evolution of ebraille devices. We looked at where Braille has come from, how current devices can be used to read documents, web pages and spreadsheets, and we also discussed the development of multi-line and graphic Braille displays. Thank you to our trustees Paul Porter and Jeff Bashton who led the session and for all the other members who contributed to the discussion.

The next Masterclass will look at Making Successful Recordings and will be led by another of our trustees, Peter Bosher.

“What do you want to be able to record? Your voice for a podcast, interviews, music, acoustic or electronic, birdsong, natural soundscapes, sound effects, family outings or holidays? Maybe transferring old tapes or vinyl records.

Our Masterclass will cover all of this. It will be in two parts: firstly I’ll give an overview of capturing sounds: microphones, portable recorders, smartphones and audio interfaces, editing and mixing, and then we’ll open up the conversation so that you get a chance to ask questions. Secondly we’ll look at what equipment and software to use, and how to do specific tasks. In this part you can also share your own knowledge and experience so that we can draw on a range of approaches with different set-ups. We can also discuss the Sound Without Sight project, mentioned elsewhere in this newsletter.

The session will be on Wednesday 10 May 2023 from 7:30pm to 9:00pm, and joining details will be sent nearer the day.”

If you would like to suggest topics or help co-lead a future Masterclass drop us an email at

Technology for Work Training Course

We launched our Technology for Work Training Programme last year following a grant of £10,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund. The programme offers members up to 5 hours of free one-to-one training to help them gain the IT skills needed in the work place so that, with other pre-employment support, they are ready to make the step into paid work. Depending on your learning goals, the course could cover topics including an overview of assistive technology and access features built into Windows and Microsoft Office, use of screen readers such as JAWS, using Microsoft Office applications, using Zoom and Microsoft Teams, web browsing, using Apple and Android phones and apps. A number of people have already benefitted from the training and have really appreciated the fact that training is customised to their current skills and knowledge of technology. You can find out more on our Technology for Work page, or for an application form contact us on

Technology Selection Tool Project

TAVIP is delighted to be helping in the development of a new website platform which will help individuals, rehab professionals and family members get up to date guidance on class leading assistive technology and access features in mainstream products. The platform is being developed by Guide Dogs on behalf of the VI Charity Sector Partnership as a sector-wide project, and content will be guided by an Expert Panel of visually impaired users of technology, including a number of very experienced TAVIP members! There will also be a mechanism for others to make recommendations to the panel, so we’ll keep you posted on that.

TechaBreak and Sight Village

As you will know we were sorry to have to cancel our plans to run our TechaBreak weekend alongside Sight Village due to the complexities of reserving a conference venue. We are looking at running it as a separate event later in the year and we will update you in due course with a programme, venue and costs. We will still be having a stand at Sight Village on Monday 17th and Tuesday 18th July at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham and we look forward to seeing some of you there (Sight Village link).

Sound Without Sight Project

TAVIP is delighted to be acting as a host for a project called Sound Without Sight which is being led by visually impaired musician Jay Pocknell. Here is an update from Jay on the background and aims of the project:

“While you may not personally consider yourself a musician, there is some truth in the suggestion that visually impaired people develop particular skills around listening to sound and music such as heightened awareness, attention to detail, and deep listening skills. However, the barriers to transitioning these skills into meaningful music or audio related employment as a blind or partially sighted person are many and significant.

Sound Without Sight is an online platform and community knowledge hub to support, promote, and connect blind and partially sighted musicians, sound engineers, and anyone with an interest in creating music. The platform will showcase blind and partially sighted talent, highlight how accessibility barriers can be overcome, combine collective knowledge, and challenge stereotypes. The project will also support the blind and partially sighted musician community to access career opportunities in music creation and production, notation, performance, and in the music industry generally.

The first version of Sound Without Sight’s online community hub will go live on Thursday 4th May. To promote the launch and kickstart conversation, we have partnered with Google, RNIB, and Creative United to curate an online roundtable event that aims to define the next steps for accessibility in music, with a particular focus on how technology can be developed to break down barriers to participation. The conversation will feature representatives from across the music industry and will call for your ideas and questions. We will share a link on our social media pages very soon, but please keep the afternoon of 4th May free if you would like to tune in!

Ahead of Sound Without Sight’s launch, we would love to hear about any resources related to music that you have found useful so that we can signpost to them from our knowledge hub. We would also really appreciate ideas for useful content or tutorials that don’t exist yet, which could support you to access music or sound related activities. Please email:

As always, we are very grateful for TAVIP’s support of the project and can’t wait to share it with the community.” Jay Pocknell, Project Manager.

Member Spotlight

This month’s member spotlight is on TAVIP Member and Trustee Paul Porter.

“Technology has always played a major role in my life. Growing up in the 60s and 70s, there was little technology to help blind and partially sighted people. I remember buying my first book at RNIB in London and my family were amazed at the number of volumes. I used the Perkins Brailler, Talking Book player and cassette players extensively for school and university work.

I was amazed to see the first talking calculator in the late 70s. I became an Optacon user (a device that converts print letters into vibrating shapes) which helped me read for many years and today technology helps me in every part of my life from looking up information, choosing what to listen to, shopping and getting around.

I have worked in the access technology sector for over 30 years. My first job was running a reading service in a library using the original Kurzweil Reading machine. This was the size of a washing machine and then cost around £30,000. Now you can do the same with a smartphone.

I worked for 25 years in RNIB’s technical team providing information and support for individuals and organisations looking for advice on what products were available. In 2019 I got my dream job working in RNIB’s library team. In the last three years we have launched the Reading Services online site and the Alexa RNIB Talking Books skill. I am an avid reader and also use other services to obtain books. I’ve gone from just about being able to carry one book around London to having thousands of audio and electronic Braille books on my smart device. Where will tech take us next?

I also enjoy travelling and in my younger days active sports including Sailing And Skiing. I don’t let my blindness stop me and I enjoy new challenges.”

Tech News


Rango Smart Cane Accessory

The Rango is a brand new accessory from GoSense, which converts a standard cane into a smart cane. Henshaws have looked at the operation of the Rango, its features and how it differs from its competitors. This is the Henshaws link to the Rango review.

Sense Player OCR from HIMS

The SensePlayer OCR is more than your normal multimedia player. It is a portable scanning and reading solution, allowing you to read and play your favourite documents and media from a wide variety of supported file types using the tactile keyboard that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Access web radio, download books, make high-fidelity recordings, and connect and control your mobile device. Link for the Sense Player at Sight and Sound

Introductory offer on the new Amigo 8 HD from Enhanced Vision

Sight and Sound have an offer on the new Amigo 8 HD handheld video magnifier which has an 8 inch screen, an auto focus camera and a distance viewing camera. This is the link to the Amigo 8 HD at Sight and Sound.

Next issue

If you would like to suggest topics, submit a short article or share a short tech-related member biography please send content to and we will do our best to include them in future editions. The deadline for content for the next issue is Monday 29th May 2023.

With Easter wishes from all at ‘TAVIP HQ’.