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Understanding and using technology
Technology can be confusing for all of us from time to time. With so many gadgets on offer it can be hard to keep track of how things work. So it's easy to understand that if you're not used to using digital devices, trying them for first time can seem a bit daunting.
No one can be expected to know how everything works – so there's no harm in asking for a little extra help. Once you've mastered the basics, you'll find that modern technology can make staying in touch so much easier.
When technology is hard to understand
As we get older, we naturally find it harder to grasps new ideas and learn new things. But it's really important to keep our minds active. Not least because technology – like phones, TV and the internet – can make our lives easier and more enjoyable. They can help retain our independence and make it easier to stay in touch and share moments with friends and family.
Learning disabilities and other mental health conditions such as dementia can also bring their own communication challenges.
Below we've put some ideas together that will help with understanding technology, and point you in the right direction if you would like further help.
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How our phones can help
If you're finding it hard to use your phone, then it might be worth considering a different type. You may want to look for phones that have:
- Large, clear, well-spaced buttons
- Easily accessible memory buttons
- Stored numbers that can be dialled with just one or two touches
- Large memory buttons with space for a picture of the person you're calling
- Pre-dialling – this displays the number as you enter it, so you can easily fix a mistake. It also means that you can enter numbers at your own pace with no worries about being disconnected before you've finished dialling.
- If you prefer not to talk to anyone, look for a phone that lets you send and receive text messages.
We've also got some useful advice on how to make calling easier.
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Knowing when to help
People may avoid new technology because they think it will be complicated. They don't want to feel embarrassed that they don't understand – or be made to feel 'old' or stupid. You may have a friend or relative who you think would benefit from digital technology, so here's few tips to help you help them:
- Visit one of our Try Before You Buy centres where they can see a range of our inclusive products. It's sometimes easier to understand how things work when you can see and touch them.
- Share information in a format they prefer or can understand. Some people are better reading printed material, while others find it easier to listen or read it on a screen.
- Showing people how to use a device and letting them try it whilst being there to support them is another great way to become familiar with how technology works.
- Check out our Getting Online section – it has lots of advice in readable and video format to help support someone to get online, even if they've never used a computer before.
- Don't understand something? Check out our Jargon Buster. It's a simple A-Z guide which will explain in plain language many of the terms used around digital technology.
Helped someone get online or use a digital device?
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There are many ways you can get help if understanding or using technology is an issue.
Where to get help and support
Often talking to or meeting people dealing with the same issues as you can be an immense help. Depending on your situation, charities like MenCap, AgeUK and Alzheimer's Society have local support groups, and their websites have a lot of useful information about help with technology.
Certain condition like dementia may result in someone making repeated calls to:
- 123 (The Speaking Clock) and perhaps running up a large bill.
- A person they do not know, which may be seen as nuisance calls.
If someone you know is in this situation we can help to reduce or even stop these involuntary calls. Our Network Controlled Calling service can restrict the numbers called from our landlines.
Support from BT
We've been actively helping people with impairments for years to help us understand your needs and requirements, so make sure you tell us about your impairments so we can offer you the best service.
BT's Try Before You Buy centres are set up in disabled living centres or within organisations helping people with particular impairments, so you also get the expertise of professionals working in these centres.
You could also attend one of our Events. Throughout the year BT attends events and exhibitions to showcase our products and services. They offer a great opportunity to see and touch our products and discuss your needs with our representatives.
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Other ways to get information
Information on most of BT services is now available online, but if you're confused about any aspect of our products or services you can get in touch in a number of different ways.
We can also provide written information and bills in alternative formats, free of charge.
You can download our latest guide BT Including You: BT's guide to help you communicate or other information in our download section.
You may be eligible for our 195 free directory enquiry service. For an application form, ring the registration team on 0800 587 0195. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 09.00 to 16.30. You'll need to complete an application form, which will need to be signed by your doctor.
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