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Learning to use new assistive technology or equipment

Learning to use a new piece of equipment can be difficult. Here are a few ways to learn how to use your new equipment.

Help with training and learning

AbilityNet volunteers support disabled people to use technology at home.

You could also find online support or training from:

Read the manual

The manual often gives you information about the product that you might not expect or you cannot find in other places. Some have guides on how to use the equipment or technology.

For some products you might need to download an online manual from the manufacturer's website. If you have a paper manual but need a digital copy, check the website or contact the company.

Asking for a different format

Contact the manufacturer or supplier if the manual is not accessible to you.

Ask for an alternative format. It can help to explain the problems you're having and what changes you need to make the manual accessible.

Some specialist equipment and technology providers will have different formats available such as easy read manuals or videos.

For example a manual might not be accessible to you if it:

  • uses confusing or complex language
  • does not work with your screen reader
  • has print that is hard to read because it's too small or the colour is hard to see

More accessible formats could include:

  • large print
  • a Word document instead of PDF
  • Braille
  • audio
  • easy read

Videos, user guides and tech support

Some products have instructional videos online. These might be created by people who use the product, trainers or the manufacturer. Try searching on YouTube to find video tutorials.

Some organisations create user guides or manuals for assistive technology and disability equipment. Search online for your product with phrases like:

  • 'instruction manual for'
  • 'how to use'
  • 'tutorials for'

Speak to customer support

Some manufacturers and suppliers will give you support over the phone or via online chats. Start by contacting the customer support team.

You could also ask if the organisation offers:

  • video tutorials
  • online user guides
  • training sessions

Some companies like Microsoft and Apple have dedicated customer tech support in store or online. This can include forums for customers to speak to a company expert or share advice with other customers.

Microsoft Disability Answer Desk

Apple accessibility support

Check if you need to book an appointment

You might need to book an appointment for tech support in store, especially if you need help from someone with specific expertise. Check with the company or store.

Find reviews and talk to people online

Reviews can tell you about features, functions and ways to use the equipment. They can help you learn more about the product and may let you know about any limitations.

Finding reviews of assistive technology

Forums and online communities can often help with solving a problem or if you want to learn to use a specific function. You can:

  • look through existing discussions and questions on a product
  • ask your own questions
  • find links to helpful websites that people have posted

Ask an assistive technology expert on Scope's online community

Youreable forum (Disabled Living Foundation)

You could also try social media channels like Facebook groups and Twitter to talk about products.

Warning Reviews are not professional advice

Reviews and advice are based on people's personal experiences. What works for someone else may not work for you. Finding more reviews may help you to understand how people feel about a product or app.

Reviews are not professional advice unless from the company or qualified expert. Only follow advice you feel comfortable with.

Always check if the company paid for or sponsored the product review as it may be more positive.

Get training

Equipment and assistive technology training can help you learn all the features available and how to use them. There are a few places you can get training.

Grants

If your employer or education provider does not cover training costs, you could try to find a grant to help you pay for it. If you're claiming benefits, check if funding will affect your benefits first.

Check for grants

The manufacturer, supplier or shop

Manufacturers or suppliers can provide training or support. They might offer training as part of the delivery and installation or you might need to pay extra for it.

Local community centres and charities

Some local community centres, charities or Disabled People's Organisations (DPOs) run cheap or free training sessions for some equipment and technology.

Contact your local authority to ask about local training services (GOV.UK)

What's available will depend on your local area.

Employers and education providers

Equipment given to you by your employer or education provider usually comes with training as part of supplying the equipment. Ask your employer or education provider if you need training.

If they refuse, you could try asking for help with training costs from:

Professional trainers and training companies

More comprehensive training from professional trainers or small training companies can help with complex equipment, like a screen reader. Sessions can run over a few days to help you learn how to use all the features, but this means they can also be expensive. A trainer can cost between £300 to £600 a day.

Some training sessions may not be accessible to you. Contact the training provider to find out if they can adjust the session to meet your needs.

Charities for specific conditions or impairments

Search for condition-specific or local charities and volunteer groups to find out what help is available.

You could also take a look at:

Last reviewed by Scope on: 20/02/2020

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