Mobile Apps For People Living With Visual Impairment

mobile apps

The introduction and availability of downloadable mobile apps are a form of revolution in mobile technology and use of mobile phones. These apps provide specific or set of services and at the same time allow for interactions with websites. App developers and development companies have designed and released millions of mobile downloadable apps coupled with emergence of new ones almost every day, thus totally transforming assistive technology. Hence, there is the possibility that an app exists for every task that could be performed by man. However, with the reality that mobile phones run on different operating systems (OS), app developers and app development companies have taken this into consideration in building apps specific for each OS. For Example, there are apps designed by Apple iOS and Android OS respectively and any apps that is designed for a particular OS will only function on mobile devices running on such OS.

Today, app developers, app development companies and augmented reality app developers have taken this revolution to a new high with the development of apps that allow people with disability to live life with fewer hitches. Presently there are apps for people with visual impairment, hearing impairments, communication difficulties, Alzheimer or Dementia, autism and other related disorders. Phone cameras are no longer useful for just taking pictures but with the aid of downloadable apps can help visually impaired people to take pictures of texts and words, which are thereafter read or magnified by the apps. There are also several apps that help in the respectively identify, recognize and voice out the colors of any object, value of money notes, or even type of objects. In this article, the focus will be on apps for people living with visual impairment.

Presently for visually impaired persons, there are Magnification, Color Identification, Money Identification, Object Identification, Light Identification, Scan and Read, Voice Recognition, Braille, and Reading apps etc. These apps help and aid visually impaired individuals to lead and live normal life. These apps have been developed to work perfectly in sync with phone cameras, such that any phone with camera becomes totally useful as an aid for visually impaired persons. Some of these apps work by magnifying or speaking aloud photos of text or objects taken with camera’s on the phone. Also, developers have developed apps that could help identify colors etc.

Magnification apps are solely designed with the aim that they provide visually impaired persons with magnified images of texts, characters and objects on phone screens. With the provision of autofocus cameras that are more rampant with new versions of mobile phones, these apps work perfectly well for people living with visual impairment. For Apple phones, apps such as Magnifying Glass with Light, Big Magnify and Big Names should be downloaded. For Android phones, apps like Big Launchers, Best Magnifying Glass, Magnifier and Magnifying Glass Flightlight should be downloaded. These apps uses mobile phones cameras and thereafter turn the phone screen into a magnifying lens, thus enlarging letters enough for the visually impaired to identify. Starting from contacts to sms and pictures etc., these magnifying apps are useful and help visually impaired persons to live normal live.

Color identification apps like Color ID and Color Detector runs either on Apple iOS or Android phones. These set of apps for visually impaired people make use of the phone camera to identify and call out the name of the specific color or colors that any impaired person wants to identify.

Money identification apps identify the value of currencies notes using the phone camera. All that is required is to focus the camera on the note to be identified; thereafter the app will just speak loud and clear on the exact denomination of the currency note. Examples of money identification app for the visually impaired are Looktel Money Reader for apple phones and Money Talks Euros for android phones. Presently Looktel Money Reader supports about 21 currencies from 21 countries of the world.

Light Identification apps have been developed to help and aid visually impaired persons for direction when in dark places but want to leave such place. These apps make use of the phone cameras to identify the lighthouse. Once the source of light beaming into a dark place is identified by the app, the app would either make a sound or continuously emits high-level sound to indicate, this it does to indicate the right direction of escape using the source of light. Some of the light identification apps in existence are seeing Assistant – Light for Apple phones, Light Detector for both Android and Apple phones, and Free Motion Light Detector for Android phones.

Scan and Read apps are apps that have been developed to help and aid visually impaired persons in reading texts. They make use of the cameras on phones. For example, apps like KNFD Reader for both Apple and Android phones is a type of scan and read app that can be used by visually impaired persons to take pictures of any printed material, help convert the pictures taken into texts and words, and thereafter reading converted text loudly to the hearing of the visually impaired person.

Object Identification apps are designed to identify objects using phone camera. These apps have been designed to make use of photo libraries and bar scanners to identify objects for the visually impaired. After the object is identified by the app, the apps call out the objects identified in words to the full hearing of the visually impaired. Examples of object identification apps include LookTel Recognizer for Apple phones, Ideal Identifier for Android phones, ScanLife Barcode and QR Reader for Android phones, TapTapSee and VizWiz for Apple phones.

Voice Recognition apps have been developed to help the visually impaired in such tasks as writing texts and making phone calls using a mobile phone. These apps make use of the voice of the visually impaired and help/aid them to navigate from one app to the other on their phone. Although there are some inbuilt apps such as Siri on Apple phones that perform this function but there are downloadable apps that offer somewhat perfect, greater control and perhaps personalization/customization for these set of people. Examples of voice recognition apps are Dragon Dictation for Apple phones and Dragon Mobil Assistant for Android phones which allow users to speak any text either email or text message or even contacts and thereafter transform such spoken texts into written texts on the phone.

Reading Apps are available to people living with visual impairment for use on mobile phones. These apps come to the rescue and thus help these set of people to enjoy the art of book reading using mobile devices and phones. These apps actually transform texts to audios. Today, there are versions of some books that have been transformed into downloadable audiobook apps. Some of the reading apps available to the visually impaired are Audible for both Android and Apple phones, Pastime Audiobook and Podcast Player for Apple phones, Read2Go for Apple phones, Darwin Daisy Reader for Android phones.

Braille Apps are also available. There are apps that can teach Braille and others allow visually impaired to type in Braille on their phones. Phone that supports Braille apps are usually touchscreens. Examples of Braille apps are BraillePad and iBrailler for Apple phones, Super Braille Keyboard for Android phones and Braille Tutor for both Apple and Android phones.

These apps discussed in this posts are just a tiny part of the apps that are available out there, designed to help the visually impaired to live normal and comfortable life. It is advised that phones should look through the respective stores to identify the available and most suitable apps for the visually impaired.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

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