Getting online with computers and tablets

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1 Getting online with computers and tablets

2 Contents Getting online About the internet 3 What will I need to get online? 3 Which type of connection is right for me? 4 How do I use the internet? 6 Where can I go for more information? 8 Computers and tablets About computers and tablets 9 Where can I buy a computer or tablet? 12 Which one should I get? 13 How do I set it up? 14 How do I use it? 15 Where can I go for more information? 16 Technology information We have other guides about ereading and mobile phones available in large print, braille and on audio CD. You can order a guide from our Helpline by calling or by ing You can also find out more about technology by visiting rnib.org.uk/technology 2

3 Getting online The internet is a great source of information and can make many everyday tasks easier, for example shopping and banking. You can also use the internet to stay in touch with family and friends. In this guide we offer information about what you ll need to get yourself online, how to choose the right internet connection, how to set up and use the internet, as well as details of where you can find more information. About the internet The internet is a global network of computers that can send and receive information between each other. The internet hosts a wide range of information and services, from the latest news to catch-up TV. You can access the internet using telephone lines or mobile phone signals. What will I need to get online? You will need a device like a computer, laptop or tablet to get online. Many mobile phones and smartphones also now provide internet access. You will then need an internet connection provided by an Internet Service Provider like Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk or Virgin Media. Most providers will offer a range of price plans that change on a regular basis, so it is worth asking what packages are currently on offer, so that you can take advantage of any discounts. Photo: Monkey Business Images/Shutterstock.com 3

4 Most plans will be based around the speed of your internet connection and how much you plan to use it. This is sometimes known as bandwidth or a usage limit. How much you use the internet is usually represented as gigabytes (GB). If you only plan to browse the internet and check your , you will need a plan with a small amount of gigabytes. However, if you plan to listen to music or download documents to your device, you will need a plan with a larger amount of gigabytes. When setting up your plan it s likely that you will have to sign up for a fixed term contract of at least one year. Make sure that there is a trial period so that you can cancel the contract if you aren t happy with the service. Which type of connection is right for me? There are a number of different connection types available. The type of connection you choose will often depend on what existing technology you have, for example, whether you have a computer or a tablet.

5 ADSL broadband connection ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) broadband is the most popular form of internet connection in the UK. To set it up, you ll need a landline telephone in your home. ADSL uses your telephone line to transmit digital information to and from the internet. Once the phone line is active, an Internet Service Provider will provide the equipment you need to get online, such as a small box called a router that you can use to connect to the internet via a cable or wirelessly (Wi-Fi). You will still be able to receive telephone calls as usual, even when you re using the internet. Cable broadband connection Cable broadband is supplied by companies such as Virgin Media. If you live in an area that has cable, you should be able to pay one charge per month for a combination of internet, TV and/or telephone. All of these services will be delivered into your home via the cable connection. An engineer will visit your home to install the necessary equipment. Mobile broadband connection Mobile broadband is provided by mobile phone service providers such as Everything Everywhere, O2, Three or Vodafone. You ll be provided with a small gadget that plugs into your computer, called a USB dongle. This small device will enable you to get online. You may also be given a SIM card to insert into your tablet to get mobile broadband. Mobile broadband is usually more expensive than ADSL or cable, and its quality depends on the mobile signal available where you live. However, it is portable, which can be useful if you need to access the internet away from the home. Dial-up connection Dial-up was the original method of internet connection and it is no longer widely used because it is much slower than other types of connection. However, some people in remote areas still use it if there are no other options available. Usually your telephone provider will offer a dial-up connection upon request. Photos: Minerva Studio/Shutterstock.com 5

6 How do I use the internet? Browsing and searching To browse and search the internet you will need to use a program called an internet browser. Most computers, tablets and smartphones will have at least one internet browser already installed, for example Internet Explorer, Google Chrome or Safari. After selecting the internet browser on your device, a search page should load. You can enter the information or question that you would like to know about and either press the enter button on your keyboard or select the search button with your mouse. A new web page should load with a list of entries. You can scroll down and select entries using your mouse or keyboard. If you want to go back to the original search listings you will need to select a back arrow icon next to the web address. If you have a specific web address that you want to go to, you can enter this into the address bar at the top of the search page. If you can t remember all of your favourite websites, you can save the addresses by adding them to your favourites folder. You can add websites by clicking the favourites button usually on the toolbar at the top of the page and then select add to favourites or bookmark page. You must do this when you are on the web page that you want to save the address for. Socialising There are many ways you can socialise on the internet. One of the simplest ways is to use to keep in contact with family and friends. Sending an is like sending an electronic letter. The person you send it to will receive your message within a few seconds of you sending it, even if they are on the other side of the world. s can contain pictures, videos and text. You can also send files as attachments to the . 6 Photo: StockLite/Shutterstock.com

7 You can get an account for free from Google, Yahoo! or Microsoft and there is no cost to sending messages apart from the monthly cost you pay for using the internet. Another great way to socialise on the internet is to use a program called Skype. If your computer has speakers and a small video camera, known as a webcam, you will be able to talk to and see the other person you are calling and vice versa. If you don t have a webcam you can still make audio calls. This service is free but the other person also needs to have Skype for it to work. You can download Skype from the internet. Social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are another way to socialise on the internet. Social networks allow you to keep up with family and friends by sharing photos and short text updates about your life. To use social networks, you will need to set up an account but this is usually free. Shopping and banking The internet allows you to shop and bank from the comfort of your home at any time of day. Many of the shops you find on the high street will allow you to buy products online and have them delivered to your door. Grocery shopping in particular can be much easier online because the website will save the products that you bought last time, so all you have to do is click one button to re-order everything. For some blind and partially sighted people, shopping online can be easier than going in store because the website will have descriptions of the products and prices. When you shop online you will need to set up an account but this should be free. However, you may be charged for delivery of shopping. Photo: LDprod/Shutterstock.com 7

8 Nearly all banks offer the option of banking via the internet. You will need to tell your bank that you would like to do this and it can take a week or so to get it set up. Once it is, you can login to see your account balances, move money between accounts, send money to another account, manage direct debits and pay bills. Some banks may require you to use a special security device, which is normally called a PIN sentry. The PIN sentry is a small plastic device that you insert your bank card into. You then have to enter your PIN number on to the keypad and a security code will be generated and displayed on the screen. You will need to enter this security code into the bank s website to log on fully and sometimes to complete tasks like transferring money. Most banks can offer accessible versions of these PIN sentry devices, including ones with built-in speech feedback. If you think you will need one of these, you should speak directly to your bank. Where can I go for more information? Over the phone or in your home The company that provides your internet connection should be able to answer your queries over the phone or by visiting you at home. RNIB RNIB has a range of resources to help, including other guides and videos. Visit rnib.org.uk/technology or call to find out more. The Technology Support Squad can also help you to set up the internet. To find out more call or visit rnib.org.uk/techsupport 8

9 Computers and tablets Computers and tablets are a great way of doing many everyday tasks, from keeping in touch with friends and family, to paying your bills or doing the weekly shop. In this guide we offer information about where you can buy computers and tablets, what to consider before you buy, how to get started and where you can find more information. About computers and tablets There are a range of different computers, laptops, and tablets available from manufacturers like Apple, Acer, Dell, HP and Sony. Desktop computers A desktop computer is free standing and not portable. A typical system consists of a screen called a monitor, a base unit called a central processing unit, a keyboard and a mouse. The base unit will have a number of ports for connecting other equipment such as printers, scanners and braille embossers. Desktops can be the best option for people with some useful sight because they can come with a 20 inch or larger screen. Photo: Dmitry Melnikov/Shutterstock.com 9

10 All-in-one computers All-in-one computers are similar to desktop computers, except that they consist of one unit, which houses the screen and the base unit together. Screen sizes range from inches. All-in-one computers are ideal if you don t have much space at home however, they are more expensive than traditional desktop computers. Laptops A laptop is a portable computer that consists of one unit. Laptops are available in a range of sizes and colours. Laptops are very popular because you can use them outside of the home. They can also connect to the internet using wireless internet or Wi-Fi. Netbooks A Netbook is a type of laptop that is smaller and lighter than a standard laptop. The screen is usually 10 inches. For everyday computing, a Netbook can be a good low cost option. However, a 10 inch display may not be large enough for some partially sighted users. 10 Photo: Neringafoto/Shutterstock.com

11 Ultrabooks Ultrabooks are premium laptops that are thinner and lighter than laptops. It is important to note that because they are smaller, they have fewer ports for connecting external devices and they don t have CD drives. Screen sizes are simillar to laptop screen sizes. Tablets A tablet is a small, thin and lightweight portable computer with a touchscreen. Screen sizes range from 5-10 inches and there is no keyboard, so typing is done on an on-screen keyboard. Tablets connect to the internet using wireless internet, so they will work when you are out and about. Some tablets also use a mobile phone network to access the internet. Tablets are lightweight and durable because there are no moving parts. In addition, they have rechargeable batteries that can last up to 10 hours. Tablets also start working as soon as you turn them on, so there is no wake up time like you have with a desktop. You can use some tablets with a braille display or a Bluetooth keyboard, which can be easier than using a touchscreen. 113

12 Where can I buy a computer or tablet? You can buy computers and tablets from high street retailers, supermarkets, online retailers and RNIB. Many popular high street retailers such as Argos, John Lewis and PC World sell computers and tablets. Well-known supermarkets like ASDA, Sainsbury s and Tesco also sell a range of computers and tablets. You can also buy computers directly from RNIB. Apple stores also sell computers and tablets, however they only sell Apple branded devices. Apple models all offer a very good level of built-in accessibility features but they can be more expensive than many alternative manufacturers. Online retailers such as Amazon and ebuyer.com are often able to offer even more competitive deals on the latest models. Also, you can buy recycled computers complete with a screen reader from Computer Recyclers Ltd. It s important to note that once you have the computer, you ll also need to take out a subscription for internet access. This can be a pay-as-you-go arrangement or a monthly fee starting at under 5 per month. Most telephone companies and mobile phone operators offer internet access either via a phone line (known as broadband) or via a USB device called a dongle that you plug in to your computer. 12

13 Which one should I get? There is a wide range of computers and tablets available. Whichever one you choose, we recommend that you try the device before you buy it. We also recommend that you check that there is an exchange policy in place, just in case it isn t suitable for your requirements. Flexibility You need to think about what you want your device to be able to do and if you want to use it outside of the home. If you choose a desktop, you will be restricted to using it in the home, however a laptop or tablet can be used at home or when you re out and about. And although tablets can now do nearly all of the tasks that a computer can, there are some exceptions, which you should consider before you buy. Screen size If you have some useful sight, you should consider the screen size. Desktop computers have large screens of up to 24 inches, whereas laptops typically have screens between 10 and 17 inches. Weight If you choose a larger screen option we recommend that you keep in mind how much a laptop or tablet is going to weigh, especially if you are going to use the device for long periods of time. Price The price of computers and tablets varies depending on the model you choose: A desktop computer with a 20 inch LCD display will cost between 300 and 500. All-in-one computers will cost between 600 and 1,000. Laptops will cost between 300 and 800. Netbooks will cost between 200 and 300 depending on the model. Ultrabooks will cost between 600 and 1,200. Tablets cost about 200 for a 7 inch model and up to for a 10 inch model. Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com 13

14 How do I set it up? Getting the device ready Once you have unpacked your computer, you will need to connect a range of cables to link up the screen, mouse and keyboard to the base unit. The cables are normally colour coded and shaped so that they will only fit in one place. You will also need to plug in any additional cables that you have for connecting to the internet, as well as plugging the base unit in to a power socket. When you set up the computer for the first time, you may find that you need help from a family member or friend. Alternatively you could call RNIB s Technology Support Squad. Once you have unpacked your laptop or tablet, you will need to plug the device in to an electrical socket to charge the battery. You should not need to plug in any additional cables, other than those you may use to connect to the internet or an external mouse. Turning it on Once your computer is plugged in or the device is fully charged, you will need to turn it on using the power button. On a desktop computer, the power button is normally on the base unit. On a laptop the power button is usually at the top of the keyboard. On a tablet, the power button is normally on the outside edge of the device, either on the top or on one of the sides. 14

15 The setup process When you turn your device on for the first time, you will need to go through a number of setup screens that will allow you to set some basic settings such as the date and time. On some devices you will be able to use the accessibility features during the set up process, so it is worth checking this before you begin. To turn on the screen reader on an Apple computer, leave the device for a short amount of time, without pressing anything and it will automatically start the screen reader. On an Apple tablet, you will need to click the home button found at the bottom of the screen three times to turn on the screen reader. On an Android tablet, you can turn on the screen reader by placing two fingers on the touch screen and keeping them there until you hear the screen reader. How do I use it? Once you have completed the setup process and enabled any accessibility features you need, you will be taken to the home screen of your device where you can find the programs you want to use, such as Microsoft Word. The programs will be accessed via a start menu. On a Microsoft Windows computer, you will find the start menu in the bottom left-hand corner of the screen. On an Apple computer, you will need to load the Finder app, which will be located along on the bottom of the screen. For tablets, as soon as you turn on the device the screen will show all of the programs that you can use as a grid of icons. You can then select these by pressing an icon. Photo: Pressmaster/Shutterstock.com 15

16 Where can I go for more information? You should spend some time familiarising yourself with your computer or tablet, so that you feel confident using it. If you still have queries, both the store you bought it from and RNIB can help. Stores The store you buy your computer or tablet from will be able to help you with queries about your device however, they may not be aware of all of the accessibility features. RNIB RNIB has a range of resources to help, including other guides and videos. Call or visit rnib.org.uk/technology The Technology Support Squad can help you to set up or use your computer or tablets. To find out more call or visit rnib.org.uk/techsupport RNIB works with Action for Blind People to draw on a wide range of skills and resources to support blind and partially sighted people. Our close relationship enables us to provide a unique combination of complementary strengths and expertise to support an ever increasing number of blind and partially sighted people. RNIB November 2013 Registered charity number Action for Blind People Registered charity number (England and Wales) SC (Scotland) PR12378P

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