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LANCASHIRE CHARITY NEWS

Thursday March 26 2020

Lancashire sight loss charity Galloway's launches an Alexa skill to help reduce social isolation


Galloway's is now bringing its audio news service to the wider community through two exciting initiatives in a bid to reduce social isolation following the coronavirus.



Lancashire sight loss charity Galloway's launches an Alexa skill to help reduce social isolation

Galloway’s is the first charitable organisation in Lancashire to launch an Alexa skill, allowing people to find out about its services, as well as listen to a range of talking newspapers.

Following this, the Penwortham-based charity will also be bringing its Talking News service to Lancashire Post’s website, as well as its associated Lancaster Guardian, Morecambe Visitor, and Chorley and Leyland Guardian sites.

People can also listen to a roundup of weekly news from local titles via the Galloway’s website: https://www.galloways.org.uk/podcast.

Head of Services at Galloway’s, Rachel Watkinson, said: “We are really excited about both these projects as they are not just for people with sight loss. “With social isolation becoming a bigger issue for the wider community following the coronavirus, we know how valuable keeping in touch with the outside world is.

“So we are excited to be forging an even stronger relationship with our local newspapers to deliver audio news from Lancashire and Sefton straight to you through our skill or the newspaper websites so you don’t need to feel alone. You can listen to us and it will feel like we are in your living room with you.

“Through the Alexa skill, we are also hoping to attract a wider audience for our monthly audio magazine, The Galloway’s Eye and tell more people about what we do.”

Following government guidance to restrict face to face contact, Galloway’s is working hard to find innovative ways of supporting blind and partially sighted people and feels the Alexa skill is just one of the many ways it can do that. The Alexa skill was developed by the technology team at Galloway’s, with support from digital guru Peter Gould, who offered his expertise as part of his interest in helping people with sight loss use technology.

Peter said: “Living with sight loss must be challenging, particularly with the ongoing coronavirus situation. Alexa provides a lifeline by allowing users to interact with a wide range of services using just their voice. Whether somebody wants to listen to a local newspaper, hear details of upcoming events or learn about eye conditions, the Alexa skill has it all available using a few simple commands. It has been a pleasure to work with Galloway's to become the first charity in the area to have an Alexa skill."

Andrew Coleman, Assistive Technology Coordinator at Galloway’s, which also has sites in Chorley, Morecambe and Southport, said: “The skill is easily accessible to anyone with an Alexa or an Alexa enabled device. All you need to do is say, ‘Alexa, enable Galloway’s support through sight loss.’ Then you have the skill. When you want to use it, you say. ‘Alexa, open Galloway’s support through sight loss.’”

Mike Hill, Advance Content Hub North West Editor at Lancashire Post, said: “As part of our role to provide trusted content to our community, we want to make sure as many people as possible are able to hear about the stories that matter to them. We also want to provide accessible news to people with sight loss or who may not normally read our paper or website. “Volunteers at Galloway’s have been reading our North West titles for many years and now is the perfect time to strengthen that longstanding relationship and deliver our articles in an alternative format for our loyal audience.”

Photo shows the Alexa Echo Dot with an orange speech bubble saying 'Alexa, enable Galloway's Support Through Sight Loss.'

To view the video visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=AGluKejSyPs&feature=emb_logo



"This is not just for people with sight loss. With social isolation a big issue, we know how valuable keeping in touch with the outside world is. It will feel like we are in your living room with you."
Rachel Watkinson, Head of Services






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