Keeping in touch can be challenging for people who are isolating or shielded and don’t feel confident with new technology. For visually impaired people, there can be added difficulties.
In our efforts to keep ‘business as usual’, if you can call these times ‘usual’, SVI’s Board of Trustees met virtually in April. Most of our Trustees are visually impaired, and we had to skill up very quickly in order to master the processes involved. We are happy to say we rose to the occasion, with all but two of the Board members joining in.
We used the application Zoom to hold the meeting. With the majority having either a smart phone or computer with at least a microphone and the added benefit of a camera, we were able to hold the meeting and discuss the necessary topics on running SVI through the COVid 19 pandemic.
Zoom is mentioned a lot at the moment. It’s a way to hold virtual meetings, keep in touch or just have fun with friends and family. Here are some reviews from some of our trustees/ members on their experiences of setting up and using Zoom.
Mike Orrow, SVI Vice‑Chair said…
In order for me to participate in the meeting, I had to download and install the Zoom App onto my PC.
The basic version is free and is packed full of features. Some features are disabled in the free version and there is a time limit of 40 minutes if you are hosting a meeting.
Using Zoom’s default settings produced good quality video streaming. I did spend some time changing some of the features which was just a matter of ticking or unticking boxes. The features I liked were having the ability to change text size, use a backdrop to hide what’s behind me and rather than seeing everyone’s image on the one screen (stopping sensory overload), the app would just show the image of the person talking.
It is an app I would highly recommend as it is extremely useful not only for holding meetings, it’s also great for staying in contact with friends and family.
An SVI member said…
“I was looking for a way of keeping in touch with my family, friends and the people I work with. Someone told me about Zoom but I wasn’t able to download the app or get it up and running, as I am living alone and don’t have any sighted help. Thanks to SVI, I have had useful practical help and support to download the Zoom app to my phone, get it set up and they even helped me to practice by setting up a virtual meeting to try it out.
I am really happy with the help I got from SVI and it was all done remotely, so no issues with social distancing. I am going to buy a new phone soon and will definitely ask SVI for help to get started with it. Thank you very much SVI”
Karen, SVI Zoom Administrator said…
“Setting up Zoom was extremely easy. Sending out invitations to the Board did not require too much IT knowledge. It was just a matter of copy and pasting the invitation into an email for multiple invitees. SVI bought the software as this allows you to have longer meetings and you can also record meetings. I was extremely impressed with the fact that you could record the meetings and how clear the recording was.
Everyone who participated in the meeting seemed to find it fairly easy to access. Some did need to have a trial run and a little practice beforehand.
It was quite satisfying to see the names pop up to join the meeting. The usual meeting etiquette had to be slightly revised to accommodate the virtual environment. In our normal meetings participants usually raise their hands and I can see this. However, in the virtual meeting I couldn’t see everyone. Also, one of our members was present on audio only. It took a little time to get used to and people had to be a lot more aware of others speaking.
I think Zoom will come in extremely useful. Obviously during these strange times, but also it may be a new way of communicating once things have started to return to some normality. For example if trustees are not able to attend meetings in person and also for new ways of communicating on a personal basis.”