Blind Veterans UK issues its 1000th Synapptic device

31 October 2017 10:00

We're pleased to announce that we've issued our 1000th Synapptic device, a tablet with award-winning all-in-one software for people who are blind or vision-impaired.

Michael Ashman, 88 and from Surrey, received the device, a tablet, while attending the charity’s training and rehabilitation centre in Brighton. In doing so, he became the 1000th blind veteran that we've provided a device with.

"I must say that, so far, I’m very impressed with the Synapptic device. I’m looking forward to being able to do all the ordinary things with it, such as writing letters. I’m one of those people who doesn’t like writing emails, so this for me will be very important! I’m also hoping to get back into reading books with it"

Michael’s sight began to deteriorate about 15 years ago, and he describes the vision he has left as very poor. He says that the support from the charity has been fantastic and has enabled him to gain a degree of independence in his life that he previously thought unobtainable. He explains: “Blind Veterans UK has been absolutely marvellous. It’s done so many things, but first and foremost are the holidays at its Brighton and Llandudno centres. The staff are always fantastic too, we’re so well looked after.”

Photo of blind veteran Michael Ashman using his Synapptic device in the Brighton centre

The Synapptic devices have long provided blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women with the ability to use their devices for basic IT and computing purposes. The device’s inbuilt speech functionality has meant that for 1000 of the vision-impaired veterans that our charity supports, simple tasks such as emailing and reconnecting with friends and family need no longer be an issue.

Having joined the Royal Air Force as part of his National Service in 1947, George served as an admin clerk convening court martials. After being discharged as a Corporal in May 1949, George returned to British Gas, before retiring at the age of 60.

Unfortunately for George, in 2004 he began suffering from glaucoma and age-related macular degeneration. He recalls: “Initially I had to pack up driving, then it steadily worsened in the following years. Describing his current vision, he says: “I can see very little, a small bit of central vision and mostly peripheral.”

George joined Blind Veterans UK in 2013 and says he hasn’t looked back since. After initially feeling skeptical towards the charity’s technology support, George’s sight deteriorated to such a point that he began exploring his options. He explains: “Not only had my sight really worsened, but my wife, Doreen, had also lost her sight, meaning she could no longer be my carer. It got to the point where we couldn’t write and were really concerned as to how we were going to get everyday tasks done.

“We were worried we were losing our independence.”

After originally using a talking computer, George was introduced to a Synapptic tablet. He says: “The talking computer was good, I was able to keep my diary on there and send emails. Then I was introduced to the Synapptic tablet, and that was great for a number of reasons, namely that I could take it around with me!

“I use it for all the same things as I did the computer. Every morning I go into appointments and find out what the day has in store for me! I also get to play music which is absolutely marvelous. I go straight onto YouTube and just type in any artist, any genre. I’ve got a varied taste: classic, dance, everything!

“Whenever Doreen and I visit the Blind Veterans UK Brighton centre, I always use the tablet to check the weather so that we can pack our suitcases accordingly!”

George’s Synapptic tablet has also allowed him to revisit some of his older passions. He says: “I was really into photography, but unfortunately I had to give that up when I lost my sight. The Synapptic tablet has been great in that regard, it allows me to take so many photographs and then delete the ones I don’t want.

“Another great thing is that I now have use for my old prints! They’re only two to three inches in size, but with the Synapptic device I can now blow them up to A4 size.”  

The impact that the Snyppatic devices have had and will continue to have on ex-Service men and women suffering sight loss is profound. The team behind Synapptic are aware of just how important their work is in achieving technological solutions in the face of sight loss. Mary McMahon, Managing Director of Synapptic, says: “At Synapptic, we make it our mission to encourage people with sight loss to embrace technology in order to make their lives easier. We believe that by designing products that are both intuitive yet simple to use, anyone can enjoy all the great benefits of technology, irrespective of their knowledge or experience.

“To think that there have now been 1000 blind veterans using Synapptic software to lead more independent and connected lives is nothing short of incredible. We hope that blind veterans will continue to embrace all the befits of Synapptic products and develop the confidence to send emails, write texts, read their own letters and enjoy all the other tasks that they never before thought possible.

"Why set limits for yourself when technology opens up so many possibilities for independence and communication?"

Michael Ashman outside the Brighton centre on the green