Visually impaired Roanoke residents benefit from virtual assistants like Siri, Amazon Echo

By  | 

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) Amazon Echo, Siri, and Google Home.

You've probably heard about these virtual assistants, and you might even have one in your pocket. The technology is especially helpful for the visually impaired.

Legally blind due to a genetic condition, David Ward knows the struggles of being visually impaired. He uses that first-hand experience at New Vision when he teaches people how to make their computers more accessible.

"Cutting-edge things that were doing, which are also more cost-effective are smart phones and tablets and Amazon Echo and virtual assistants," assistive technology instructor David Ward said.

New Vision's Courtney Bass cuts tape on their newest shipment of Echos, and the organization hopes an unusual dinning experience will help them buy more.

They're throwing a second annual Dinner in the Dark, where guests come to Hotel Roanoke to eat in pitch black. Only the servers get night-vision googles.

"A lot of people expressed to me that it was very enlightening to realize how much a simple task requires a different outlook or strategy," Lila Dickerson said.

The benefit is two-fold: raise awareness for the visually impaired and bring in money for New Vision so others stay connected in new ways.

" I enjoy teaching, and I enjoy watching my students have a light bulb come on, learn something new, and walk away feeling better about what they're able to accomplish day in and day out," Ward said.

For more information on Dinner in the Dark, click here.