What is the best way to get my elderly friend in the UK access to Skype?
September 8, 2019 1:22 AM   Subscribe

I have an elderly friend living in the UK who needs access to Skype video conferencing, but he has difficulty typing, poor vision, and it would be hard for him to learn anything complicated. Is there a device for seniors I can get him?

I see there are a number of tablet type devices designed for seniors, but the only one I see in the UK is KOMP, which does not have Skype.

Any suggestions? He specifically needs Skype, and can't use a proprietary calling network. He doesn't need any of the other things that a tablet can do. A device that only does video calls would be fine.
posted by Surprised By Bees to Technology (7 answers total)
To clarify, a smart phone with the Skype app is not an option for him?
posted by Wretch729 at 6:34 AM on September 8, 2019

I don't know of any specialty Skype-only devices. A Kindle Fire may be the cheapest consumer device for doing this; that runs Android and Skype is supported. The link I just put there is old, so you'll have to do some research on which versions of the Fire work with Skype. I'd also recommend buying the ad-free version that costs a bit more, it will minimize distractions to usability. If you set it up for him and then make it clear which icon launches Skype, I think it will be relatively easy to use.
posted by Nelson at 7:04 AM on September 8, 2019

His local council may be able to provide him with appliances that will allow him to use computers and get training to use these applications. It may require completing a grant application.

Secondary possibility is to stop using the computer and move to pure voice functionality for his computer through a microphone he can hold and use. I suggest getting him quite a big wireless microphone and headphones. He may be able to access services to train him to use his phone blind and use that for Skype calls.
posted by parmanparman at 7:12 AM on September 8, 2019

How is he going to get data? Is there an available internet connection or will he need his own?
posted by koahiatamadl at 10:53 AM on September 8, 2019

I'd say an iPad, even a cheaper, older, or used iPad. Then enable "Guided Access." That will put it into a type of kiosk mode, where it will only run one app. So he can just turn on the iPad, and Skype will run.
posted by MiG at 11:50 AM on September 8, 2019

Thanks for the suggestions. I was hoping there would be a device designed for seniors, like Grandpad. But I couldn't find one for the UK that uses Skype.

He does have Internet and a computer, but the computer is too hard for him to use.

I think a smart phone would be too hard for him to use; he can barely type on a keyboard and his vision is bad, so he needs everything to be large.

I was hoping for something that's as simple as a phone. Someone else could set it up, it could be left on all the time, and when someone calls on Skype, he could just answer. Could we do that with an ipad?
posted by Surprised By Bees at 1:39 PM on September 8, 2019

You can make Skype calls via Alexa devices. My Mum (72) has an Echo Show which is the version with a screen and she loves it. Although I haven’t used it for Skype it looks like it works the same as for the ordinary call function, which is just that you hear an announcement that a call is incoming and you tell Alexa to answer, or make a call by telling Alexa to call X person. It would just need someone to set it up for your friend and after that it’s just basically on until a Skype call is incoming or they want to make one. As a bonus my Mum loves that it plays music on command and she can control the volume by voice, so your friend might get some extra functionality out of it too.
posted by billiebee at 2:32 PM on September 8, 2019

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