#TeamHable Customer Stories: Age UK Oxfordshire
#TeamHable recently completed a highly rewarding project with Age UK Oxfordshire, led by our Accessibility Lead, Sarah Mann.
The introduction of Microsoft Teams within the organisation had previously been a long-term aspiration, however the impact of the pandemic resulted in this deployment needing to be done as soon as possible. After their infrastructure partner BrightCloud helped implement the technology, Age UK Oxfordshire wanted to focus on how to deliver effective meetings whilst working remotely, as well as understanding the tools to create accessible and inclusive meetings in a digital format.
With these objectives in mind, we ran the following training sessions over the course of a few weeks, delivered by our wonderful Accessibility Lead and Head of Delivery, Sarah Mann.
1) How to Work in a Remote/ Distributed Team
Teams is the perfect tool to support remote working. In these sessions, we cover how Teams brings everything together in a shared workspace where you can chat, meet, share files and work with helpful applications.
In these sessions, attendees learn how to run accessible online meetings that ensure everyone is included. We explore tools in Teams that support a range of accessibility needs including visual, hearing, language, cognitive and wellbeing. These sessions aim to give an understanding of how accessibility must be considered at each stage; including planning, chairing and following up after the meeting.
Feedback & Impact…
We spoke to Sarah Jackson, HR Manager at Age UK Oxfordshire, who shared a bit of the team’s journey with Microsoft Teams and Hable.
“This period has opened up a lot of thought processes and opportunities for re-evaluating how we work. It’s highlighted how much can be done remotely, and in instances where someone might have driven 20-30 miles across the county for a meeting, there will now be more consideration given to it being done over a quick Teams call instead.”
– Sarah Jackson.
Age UK Oxfordshire had specific challenges in catering to the varying needs of their clients throughout the pandemic, as many had limited knowledge and access to the use of technology. Our sessions were designed to give the Age UK Oxfordshire team the step by step knowledge to use digital tools to support the amazing work that they were already doing within the community. As a result of this, there have been some brilliant benefits, for example giving them face-to-face interaction instead of a phone call, which has made a lot of difference during lockdown. Some also find it more comfortable to talk to someone over Teams, rather than having them physically enter their homes, which is something that can be developed beyond the constraints of the pandemic.
Another amazing example of this benefitting Age UK Oxfordshire clients, was giving them the confidence to use technology to continue to engage with activities and interactive sessions. At the start of the pandemic, when many exercise classes and other activities were moved online, there was a reluctance and lack of participation at first. Most of this can be put down to the apprehension of using unfamiliar technology.
By understanding the accessibility and inclusive capabilities that can be achieved in Microsoft Teams, the staff at Age UK Oxfordshire were able to adapt and encourage more participation. For example, being able to switch on closed captions, can really support people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or simply in a noisy environment. In the same way, using very simple or blurred backgrounds, enables those who are lip reading to really focus on the speaker and remove unhelpful distractions.
“It worked well just having Sarah deliver the sessions, by having the same person running the sessions it meant that as they progressed, she really got to grips with the way that we work and what we needed. Sarah helped us to unlock a lot of the hidden functionality within Teams too, like the transcript and translation. The translation function is a useful tool for us and one we had been looking into as an organisation already. This will help us to reach more people in the community and get a conversation started with them. We got some really good feedback on Sarah’s training and delivery too.”
Age UK Oxfordshire are planning to run more topical sessions in the new year, to assess how they can utilise the system to help support their strategy and get where they want to be in the future. These sessions could include file sharing and working collaboratively whilst working remotely.
“If we’re going to use Teams, we need to work in a different way, which means changing processes and perhaps closing down some existing processes. We want to utilise Teams to help us move forward and work differently, ultimately.”
– Sarah Jackson
With all the challenges that this year has brought, we felt really privileged to support Age UK Oxfordshire in this way – it is so encouraging to see how simple interactions, such as a video call or a group meeting session can significantly impact someone’s wellbeing and quality of life.
It has been a pleasure working with the team at Age UK Oxfordshire. Many thanks to Sarah Jackson for taking the time to share their story with us.
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