Blind, low vision community hails $400k Government investment into Amazon Alexa devices

Those in the blind and low vision community are welcoming a $400,000 investment from the Government that’ll pay for thousands of Amazon Alexa devices.

The devices are growing in popularity, with many vision impaired people using them for day-to-day tasks like turning on lights or listening to finding out when the next bus arrives.

One of those users is Mike Lloyd.

“With the heat pump, I can't read the temperature or set that visually on the remote, so just being able to control that by voice is just very good,” Mr Lloyd said.

He told 1 NEWS that while the tech is still in its early stages, it’s already becoming more widely catered for.

“It's socially acceptable as well - more and more people are talking to their devices,” he said.

Vision rehabilitation service provider Blind Low Vision NZ has developed its own function for Amazon’s smart speaker.

It means members can access audiobooks and magazines with a simple voice command.

Geraldine Lewis, the organisation’s Library and Studios manager, says more than 1,500 people are using the service.

"We have members in their 90s and they have been loving it,” she said.

Carmel Sepuloni, the Minister for Social Development, made today’s funding announcement and says the money will help the tech develop further.

“It’s also about building people’s capacity to be able to use technology, so this brings us one step closer to supporting people to be able to do that.”