Newfangled Gadgets
written & illustrated by grandad


Julia finally managed to convince her nanny Ann to have a smartphone. Well to be honest, it was Barney and Julia's friend Jack and his grandad Bill, who helped convinced her. She thought it was just a newfangled gadget, until grandad Bill explained how the technology helps with his low vision. It took a lot of explaining to nanny what apps are and what they do. So he decided to show her what one of his apps does for him and with his smartphone he took a picture of nanny and it said "female, blonde hair, 48 years old." Nanny giggled and said "oh I like apps, you need to tell me more about these newfangled gadgets." Grandad Bill laughed, he was never going to ask nanny her real age, I mean a gentleman never does. This is nanny Ann's story about using technology to help her unlock the things she thought she had lost forever.



You all remember nanny Ann from my story " The grey girl ", well in this story we need to go back a couple of months. Nanny Ann was doing well, but Julia wanted nanny to be able do, even more of things she used to do. So she spoke to Barney, Barney listened to Julia and then said " yes grandad Bill was the same, until his grandson Jack introduced him to technology, now you can't stop him." Julia looked at Barney and giggled and said "could you ever stop grandad Bill?" Barney roared with laughter and said "no."



Nanny Ann like Julia loved animals, she had a special place in her heart for cows, as she used to work on a farm when she was younger. Barney said it would be great to have a day out together and that they could visit his friends farm and then grandad Bill with Jack's help could show her the technology. So Barney rang his very good friend Roxanne to see if they could visit. It was a strange call, all Julia could really hear was a lot of "moo, moo and woof, woof." But after 5 minutes, Barney came off the phone and said they could go down on either Friday or Saturday. Barney went on to explain that Roxanne was on her own this week running the farm, as the farmer and his wife were away. Roxanne did have one question, which was "does nanny Ann like to shop?" "Yes" replied Julia and with that Barney sent Roxanne a text.



Julia had spoken to nanny Ann two months ago, about having a smartphone, after she had spoken to Jack about Grandad Bill and how it helped him. However, nanny Ann was not keen, she just kept saying it was too complicated, she was too old to learn and especially with her poor vision, she would not be able to see any of the buttons and numbers. Julia knew it would help nanny Ann, so she decided to ask Barney, Jack and Grandad Bill to help her. So one sunny afternoon as they all were in the garden, grandad Bill said to nanny Ann " so Ann when are you going to get a smartphone?" She replied "I am too old to start learning all about these newfangled gadgets." "Rubbish Ann, you are much younger than me and look at me, I have a smartphone and use apps to unlock the things i thought had gone forever, it's given me a new lease of life."



While Julia and Jack went off to make the sandwiches, Bill and Ann as well as Barney had a quiet chat. "Ann what do you find difficult to do each day, me it's colours and reading labels, but with my smartphone and my apps, along with my other gadgets, I manage much better." Ann replied " see Bill I don't understand any of that." Bill smiled and said "don't worry Ann baby steps and we have Jack and Julia to help too." Barney piped up " hey don't forget me, I can help too." Which made Bill and Ann giggle so much. Then, this was the moment Bill got out his smartphone, pointed it at nanny Ann and the smartphone said "female, blonde, 48 years old", which made nanny Ann say "oh Bill, i like these newfangled gadgets, tell me more, how did it do that?"

Grandad Bill laughed and shouted "Jack. come and explain this to nanny Ann." Nanny Ann giggled as Bill said "see I told you, you are much younger than me." By the time Jack and Julia had arrived, everyone was laughing and Julia had a little tear, as it was so nice to see nanny Ann laughing again. She knew nanny Ann was very strong, but it was tough for her dealing with her declining vision.



As they sat and had their sandwiches and tea Jack tried to explain the technology as simply as he could, he saw a strange look on nanny Ann's face, the same one his grandad got when he understood nothing. "Julia I don't understand it, it's so complicated," said nanny Ann. Before Julia could reply Bill said "it's okay Ann, I only actually use 2 apps, it's all I need and it gives me so much, relax, baby steps, it's how i learned." Jack turned to nanny Ann and said " don't be scared nanny Ann, it's your friend and it will help you so much, just like it has grandad. I tell you a secret nanny Ann, grandad was more scared than you." Bill turned to Ann and said "no I wasn't", Jack looked at grandad Bill and said "grandad". Grandad Bill laughed and said "okay I was, but now i couldn't be without it, thanks to Jack."



"So, Ann why don't you come round tomorrow with Julia and see how these apps help me through the day, come round at 10 and be prepared to be amazed." Said Bill, Ann looked at Julia and she nodded, so Ann replied "okay Bill we will see you at 10." At 10 the next morning, they knocked on Bill's door and he opened his door in his dressing gown, but did not move out of the way and said "some days it's hard to recognise faces, watch and listen." With that he pointed his smartphone at Ann and the smartphone said "Ann, smiling." Ann was amazed, Bill told her yesterday he had taken her photo, so that the app recognised her. Bill went inside and Ann and Julia followed him. Bill made them both a coffee and went onto to say "if you are like me, colours are a problem, l tried the different shape buttons, but it doesn't always work out for me."



"So Ann, I use the app to tell me what colour is which, so come to the dining room, see it working and know getting dressed once again is easy." When they got to the dining room Bill had laid some clothes out on the table and Ann realised why Bill had not dressed yet, he really was a good friend. "Bill are you ever going to tell me what this magical app is called, or is it a secret and how much it costs?" Bill laughed, sat Ann down and replied "Ann it's called "seeing AI" and it's free." Bill then went onto to show Ann how the colour recognition worked. She was amazed and begun to understand what a difference this technology would make to her life.

Mind you Bill did tell her to be careful who is around when you dress, as Barney and Jack had been known to change his clothes around after he had chosen them and he ended up walking about like a rainbow. To be fair they only let him walk to end of the path, they laughed so much and Ann said "Bill you have a pink shirt and green trousers, whoa I am impressed."



"Right let's go and make lunch, i bet Jack and Julia must be starving by now." Said Bill. Ann asked Bill how he managed to still cook as she could no longer see the labels properly. Bill laughed and said oh he had some disasters too, like peaches on toast and that now he uses the app to read barcodes. Nanny giggled and said "Bill you need to show me and is there anything this app can't do?" Bill replied "sadly yes Ann, it doesn't do the ironing." They both laughed so much, Jack and Julia ran in to see what all the laughter was about and joined in.

Once again Ann was amazed how the app read the barcode and told them it was baked beans, Jack, however, looked sad, Grandad Bill asked him why was he looking sad. Jack replied "I actually like peaches on toast." Once again everyone roared with laughter. Their day on the farm with Roxanne tomorrow was going to be great fun and they settled down to beans on toast. As they ate, Bill said "see Ann, you never knew I was a world class chef." Once again everyone rolled up laughing.



Next morning they left early to get to the farm, the previous evening Roxanne had phoned Barney and suggested that they stay over night, so that Roxanne could take nanny Ann shopping before they went home. Everyone jumped at the chance and Julia put the app on her phone, so that nanny Ann could pick her clothes for the overnight stay. Seeing her nanny picking her own clothes once again was amazing and seeing her taking her time, bought a tear to Julia's eyes. What made Julia's year was seeing her nanny pack her camera, nanny used to love taking photos, but once her visual impairment started, she stopped.

On arriving at the farm nanny Ann wanted to take some photographs, however, there was a gatecrasher, who would not go away until nanny Ann took her photo, which made everyone giggle. "Oh my, I hope it was in focus", said nanny Ann. "It will be nanny, I set it onto automatic focus for you," replied Julia.




After taking the photos Bill asked Ann, if she could see all her surroundings clearly. "Not really Bill", she replied. Bill replied "neither can I Ann, let me show you what else this app can do." The app then began to describe the scene around them, as it did, they all looked and nanny Ann was crying. "I didn't mean to upset you Ann", said Bill. "Oh you haven't Bill, it just makes me happy, it is like being given an extra pair of eyes", said nanny Ann. "Yes I know Ann, all the visual aids we have in the home are wonderful, but this gives us that independence we crave." Suddenly Jack said "look at Barney", Barney wanted always to be a sheepdog and went to find some sheep, trouble is the sheep had other ideas and all you could hear was "woof help woof."



Ann sat with Roxanne, while the others explored the farm, they talked about their shopping trip tomorrow, it had been a long time since nanny Ann had been shopping. She was going to take Julia's smartphone with her and the best shopper in the world, Roxanne. Roxanne asked her what was her favourite shops and what she wanted to buy, nanny Ann replied "clothes shops, colour and a couple of outfits that match." Roxanne giggled and said "oh nanny Ann, that's easy, we are going to have such fun." Nanny Ann smiled but didn't laugh and said "I always think people are starring at me and in a room of people I can feel so alone." Roxanne thought for a moment and said "your species is strange, all us animals look after each other, it doesn't matter how different you are, we don't care if you don't look the same, or if you are disabled, for us a cow is a cow and always will be."



"Trouble is Roxanne, people can't see what is wrong with me. so they think I am okay." Said nanny Ann and continued "you feel vulnerable and embarrassed and you are all grown up and then suddenly you lose your independence and it is so frightening." You feel lost in a world you once knew and all the normal things in your life, suddenly present so many challenges. But, these past couple of days, learning about the apps available to me, gives me great hope, because I know, I can overcome a lot of the challenges by using them." said nanny Ann. Roxanne replied, "You think you have problems, what about me, having to muck out the cows on a cold winter's morning." They both roared with laughter and with that, went to Roxanne's to have coffee and a slice of cake.



Roxanne was very excited having everyone on the farm and was going to cook in the evening a very special dinner. Grandad Bill asked if he needed to dress for dinner, everyone thought it was strange, but nanny Ann said "yes of course Bill." Everyone looked at one another and knew Bill was up to something. That evening Bill emerged from his room all dressed up, everyone laughed and Julia gave nanny Ann her smartphone, showed her how to use the app and then the phone said "grandad Bill smiling." "Bill this is so good, I don't feel so isolated now, I can be part of everything." said nanny Ann. "Well Ann it is not so good, because I won't be able to make funny faces anymore or poke my tongue out." replied Bill and with that they all laughed and went in to have the amazing dinner Roxanne had cooked.



As they were eating dinner Bill remembered he needed to text his neighbour to remind him to feed his fish. So he picked up his phone and said "text George," waited and then said "hello George, just to remind you to feed my fish, the feed is in the garden shed, thanks George, see you tomorrow." Nanny Ann giggled and said "another thing this app can do?" Bill giggled and said "actually no, all smartphones do this, you can send text and make calls like this." After dinner Julia showed nanny Ann how to use the app to identify her banknotes and make sure she paid the right amount of money when shopping. She took a £20 note and put it on the table and the phone said "twenty U.K. pounds". Nanny Ann was amazed, but Roxanne said "no, that's wrong, it should say, the right price for a nice blouse." Everyone laughed and nanny Ann realised she was looking forward to shopping, something she hadn't done in a long time.



Nanny Ann said to Julia, "does the app read text and documents, it would be so nice to read my letters and documents without having to always ask you, i know you don't mind, but I want to feel like an adult again." Julia replied "oh nanny Ann, I never knew you felt like that, yes of course it reads text and documents, let me show you." Julia showed her and within 5 minutes nanny Ann was grabbing anything she could, so that the app could read it. So, just before going to bed, Julia and Roxanne updated another app for nanny Ann, which would help her when she was out shopping. Bill laughed and said "Ann, you will be so excited tonight, you won't be able to sleep, you better have some hot chocolate."



In the morning Bill dropped Ann and Roxanne off at the station and they caught the train to London. It had always been Ann's favourite place to shop, but until now she had been frightened to shop there again, due to her poor vision. They spent the morning shopping, Ann with Roxanne's help used the app on Julia's phone and Ann was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to use. The thing she liked was, everyone had a phone, so using Julia's phone did not make her stand out, she had always been embarrassed before about getting out her magnifier, but this app helped her blend in and for Ann that was so important.

They had lunch and while having their coffee Roxanne said "Ann, now you are going to shop for an hour on your own, remember the app soundscape, the other app we showed you last night, I have set up the shops you want to visit." Ann looked shocked, but then realised she could do this and said "Yes, Roxanne, this is exciting, where shall we meet up?" replied Ann. "I have put your favourite coffee shop in the app, so we will meet there." Ann then went on her way, as it was her first time on her own for a while, Roxanne followed at a safe distance, but she saw from the first few steps how confident Ann was becoming with each step.



Ann spent the next hour following the instructions on the phone, it made her smile as it named roads, she knew so well and the shops she had enjoyed for many years. She had set herself a goal to buy a new coat and that's exactly what she did, in the colour and size she wanted and even got a discount. She spoke to a couple of people who were also using apps to help them and realised there were many apps out there to help visually impaired people. She used the app to get to the coffee shop, to meet Roxanne. Of course Roxanne was not far behind her and Ann said "looking forward to a coffee, except this is not my coffee shop." Roxanne giggled and replied "guilty Ann, did you enjoy using the technology?" "Oh yes," said Ann. Roxanne then told her they were outside a phone shop and it was time for Ann to buy a smartphone and then they will go for a coffee, with that they both laughed and went in.



They spent some time picking the right phone for Ann, the shop assistant even loaded the two apps Ann had been using on Julia's phone. The assistant was very interested in them and wanted to know more. Ann said to him "When you lose the ability to see, to do all the things everyone takes for granted, it's so nice to know that with the help of people who truly care and this technology and these apps, you get the chance to do them once again." They left the shop and outside the shop, Ann had the biggest surprise of the day, there was everyone to greet her. This day is a day Ann will never ever forget, she realised the greatest gifts we can give is our time and to see beyond what we just want to see. You will you never forget this day either.