How is it that a few simple vibrations can give you SO VERY MUCH?
If you had asked me the same question just a few months ago I would have probably said how I didn’t understand them.
Well, that was before I was fortunate enough to receive a Series 1, 42mm Apple Watch from the charity The Molly Watt Trust This was a piece of accessible technology I would never have been in a position to justify buying; even though I have seen the benefits others have gained from it.
So I took a chance, I applied to the charities project and crossed everything!The Apple Watch arrived at the end of November. And after I plucked up the courage to open up the box it was like love at first sight! (If such a thing can happen with an inanimate object like a watch!)
The first fun was setting the Watch face. Having previously had a Fitbit Surge I thought this would be easy...... it wasn’t! That’s a bit of a fib, setting the Watch face was easy it was rather trying to decide on what ‘complications’ I wanted to be able to have for easy access on the Watch face that was the difficult part. And it took just over a week to get the right mix, that I have continued to use ever since!
Since wearing hearing aids in 2017 I am no longer able to wear in ear headphones, this posed a huge issue for me as an iPhone user who relies heavily on Apple maps and google maps to help support me to keep more independence. Walking with my phone out in my hand wasn’t exactly safe either.
This is the one feature I was really excited about trying out for myself on the watch. The ability to set a route on my phone in apple maps and then have the haptic (vibrations) go on my wrist to alert me to an instruction.
It took some getting used to, and if I am honest I tend to make use of my remaining sight to look at the instruction, but I am learning to be more trusting of it.
While my phone stays safely away in my pocket or bag.
Another feature I have found incredibly useful is text messaging. Yes I can use my phone for most of my day to day messages (with the added support of zoom).
But if I am out and about (or even sat in a loud, busy venue) I can quickly scroll down to a pre-set message that simply says “struggling here”. This I find is enough to help raise the alert that I am not finding things easy.
This works particularly well with my friends who also have an Apple Watch, but for those who don’t, but who can quickly glance at their phones I am quickly able to find reassurance...... Or in the case of the other day; I am able to alert my friends that I have got lost on the way back to the table after going to the toilet (the waitress had kindly shown me where they were)
For me, the feeling of being safe in my surroundings is key; whether this is somewhere on my own, somewhere new or somewhere ‘different’ has always been important to me. As my sight deteriorated this became even more important. But when my hearing also started to fail me; I worried that I would loose myself with it.
In these past four months, I have felt like I have a new lease on life.
And I really do believe this is down to the support I have benefitted from from The Molly Watt Trust and The Apple Watch Project.
My son read Molly's applewatch blog to me last year. She made everything sound so easy and to be honest I didn't believe it.
My son kept on and and and on about me getting one as I had become quite a recluse.
I could always find an excuse not to go out, my neighbours helped out with shopping and my son visits regularly.
I have had an iPhone for just over a year and learnt how to use it just by playing with it.
A couple of years ago I was assessed by Guidedogs for a dog but was told I couldn't be considered for a dog until I had some sort of routine as the dog needs to work.
To be honest it put me into a state of depression and I withdrew further.
I was trained to use a cane some years ago but didn't like it and didn't feel I needed it. I was definitely in denial.
Anyway, I had been unhappy for many years. Usher Syndrome has isolated me and I let it.
My son advised me of the project Molly had put together through her charity and he more I read the more I wanted to give the applewatch a try.
I admire Molly, so young and doing her best to live happily and to help others, she is definitely an inspiration to me.
At 54 years old I am not an expert in technology but I'm learning and I quite like it, I have surprised myself with my iPhone, set up my own email and a few apps and games with a little help.
I decided to apply for the applewatch thinking I'd have no chance, as I don't have a regular routine, haven't even ventured to my local shop on my own for probably 5 years.
I'm sure there are lots of people hoping to get an applewatch and Molly Watt Trust is a small charity and fundraising isn't easy.
When I got the email to say I had been approved for a watch and after a few formalities it would be sent to me I was in shock, I hadn't expected it especially as at this stage I knew MWT have asked for feedback to help with fundraising and I asked to be anonymous - it wasn't a problem.
I received my applewatch in January, it was like Christmas. I charged it and set it up on my own, I fiddled around with it, sorted out the accessibility settings and changed the faces. My son did help me with a few apps and applepay then he helped me set up a route on maps for me to walk on my own with my cane. He was more excited than me.
It took me 2 weeks to actually walk that route, I had sleepless nights thinking about it. I was fighting with myself, I wanted to do it but I was frightened and hated the thought of being seen with my cane.
I planned the walk over and over until I finally took a deep breath and just did it.
The route was to my local shops, just over a mile a way.
At first I was really slow and apprehensive but the further I got the better I felt, the watch guided me with taps on my wrist for left and right. I made it to the small supermarket and I felt so adrenalised I wanted to walk and walk. All of a sudden I didn't care if people were looking at me, I felt confident, I felt great.
I decided to go in the coffee shop next door something I'd never have done for fear of knocking something over, I walked in, it was quite empty, I ordered my coffee and the young girl asked if I wanted to pay with my applewatch, I stretched out my arm and beep, done.
I sat down and my coffee was brought to me.
I couldn't believe myself, I was smiling to myself for the first time in a long time, I had done it and I did it for myself.
I text my son from the coffee shop, he didn't believe me so came and met me. We both cried, silly I know but a big deal for me.
My son took me home and we talked about technology and how it can change people, enable people, just amazing.
That was the first time and now I go out everyday, I feel so much better for it. No longer a prisoner in my own home, I can get from a to b fairly safely. I do get a bit stressed if it is busy so I avoid busy times.
For me this is just the beginning, I will contact Guidedogs for the blind again perhaps in the summer when I can say I go out regularly, we will see.
For now I just want to thank everybody at Molly Watt Trust for making this happen and for Molly for being such an inspirational young lady.
I will write again soon.
So I've now had my Watch a month and the best way I can describe it is 'Effortless.'
When I first got it all in its beautiful packaging it felt like Christmas again, all thanks to the Molly Watt Trust's GlobalGiving Project.
I was chosen as one of the first to trial this idea and wow I'm very thankful!
I Have Usher type 2 so born partially Deaf and now slowly losing my sight due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, that is Usher Syndrome.
I'm pretty much the worst for missing calls or notifications and emails simply because I don't hear the pings and don't see until I check myself usually just before bedtime.
Well since this lovely piece of tech came into my life that is now a thing of the Past....
'Haptic's where have you been all my life?'
So when I first got this all set up, I adjusted the font and display and synced to my IPhone 6, I turned Haptic's up and volume down ( I'm higher tone deaf so no point for me as I wont hear it) I was well away.
I downloaded some apps such as my Bank and Email also Around Me so I could use it with Maps to use as a walking Sat Nav, also BBC news app.
All of these worked well for me the At a Glance I found really useful as well as the Call Feature as when I'm on a bus or the school run it isn't ideal with Guide dog in one hand, child in the the other so now in an emergency with just a quick click and a tap or even a 'hey Siri Call...' at my wrist I could call for help without being at risk. That was a huge biggie for me.
However for me there is one very big FAIL! It is not the fault of Apple or the Applewatch but my hearing aids, they do not work with Bluetooth, no connectivity so I can't hear directly to my ear so I found myself holding my wrist right up to my ear looking abit 'James Bond esk' but not a great feeling trying to juggle everything child, dog and school bags it was abit of a pain but as I say not Apple's fault but the Oticon spirit Zest hearing aids supplied by the NHS so no perks which a real shame as I feel I could probably gain a whole different view had I had the right equipment.
Any way a month down the line the applewatch feels great it's amazingly light and easy to forget it's on my wrist until I get the helpful Haptic's reminder of something in my calendar or emails, and even to navigate to somewhere new, very useful In busy town centres when I just need to go from A to B without scanning around which causes terrible eye strain and headaches, Applewatch has helped stop this, no more scanning just relying on a simple tap or taps on my wrist enabling me to simply direct my guide dog left or right accordingly.
Pretty awesome and effortless for me, my daughter likes the drawing bit in the contacts with those who also have the watch she thinks its magic and cool.
I know I have a lot more to learn about my Applewatch and I'm sure in the coming months I will have more to report.
I'm feeling more confident and independent and feel with this technology and my guidedog I can become ever more independent, maybe a part time job soon.
The only snag I have are these 'prehistoric' hearing aids. Having hearing aids with full comaptibility would be absolutely awesome, I guess a girl can dream!
That said I love my new watch, it is more than a watch and whoever developed Haptics - Thank you life is definitely a little easier.
I want to say Thank you to to the MWT Global Giving project for this awesome gift!