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Topics: Nonprofit

Using Amazon Alexa to Improve Accessibility with Guide Dogs UK

December 2022

About the Episode 

For centuries, people affected by sight loss have turned to technology and dogs to improve their day-to-day lives with innovative solutions. Guide Dogs is a nonprofit based in the United Kingdom dedicated to creating accessible tools for those affected by sight loss. As the largest breeder and trainer of dogs, Guide Dogs uses Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide dog owners with the information they need to take care of the dog and live a confident and independent life. By creating an Amazon Alexa skill, powered by AWS, dog owners can ask their Alexa device questions regarding caring for their dog, caring for themselves, and more. To learn more about how Guide Dogs uses AWS to improve accessibility for those affected by sight loss, the Fix This team chatted with Phil Bowers, assistive technology architect at Guide Dogs, and Lea Hampton-O'Neil, a senior product manager for Guide Dogs.

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Guest Speaker

Lea Hampton-O'Neil Headshot
Lea Hampton-O'Neil Headshot

Lea Hampton-O'Neil

Senior Product Manager, Guide Dogs UK

Lea Hampton-O'Neil is senior product manager at Guide Dogs UK. She is looking after the digital services for adult service users, including the Guide Dog Alexa skill. Lea believes that we need to create an accessible world, ensuring that we provide services for all. Voice is one of the ways we can achieve this. 

Lea has a background in science, data, digital and marketing and has used it at Guide Dogs to increase the accessible reach of Guide Dogs.

Phil Bowers Headshot
Phil Bowers Headshot

Phil Bowers

Assistive Technology Architect, Guide Dogs UK

Phil has been a Guide Dog owner for the past 21 years. His current Guide Dog is a flat coat retriever called Ranger. Phil has over 25 years of experience in supporting assistive technology users, both at the Royal National Institute for the Blind; and at Guide Dogs.

Phil is familiar with supporting a wide variety of assistive technology, and has a proven track record in designing solutions for inaccessible IT systems. Phil is driven by his passion to make the home and the workplace accessible for everybody.

Phil’s current role at Guide Dogs as an assistive technology architect gives him a unique window into the latest technologies being released. Phil is often called upon to comment on new products and their accessibility.


02:27 - Introducing the Guide Dogs mission
03:43 - Understanding how a guide dog is trained and prepped
05:38 - Importance of upskilling a new owner to care for a dog

07:00 - Why Guide Dogs created an Alexa skill
10:23 - Benefits of the Alexa skill
11:24 - Expanding accessibility beyond Alexa at Guide Dogs

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