When 12-year-old Alexander Knoll saw a man in a wheelchair struggle to get through a heavy door in his hometown of Post Falls, Idaho, he was struck with an ingenious idea. What if there were an app or website that could communicate to persons with disabilities which stores in the area had automatic doors? And from that simple consideration, an adaptable solution was born.
The young entrepreneur went to work, developing the Ability App — a free accessibility application akin to Yelp which helps people with disabilities navigate public spaces by providing information about wheelchair ramps, disabled parking, braille menus and more. One visit to the Ellen DeGeneres show and a check from Shutterfly for $25,000 later, Alex’s idea is on its way to completion.
In fact, mobile apps for Android and iOS smartphones are rapidly helping people with disabilities to find their way around the world much better — and helping to live better lives in the process. From travelling guidance to accessibility hacks — even personal dating — here are the top 8 mobile apps for persons with disabilities.
1. Be My Eyes: Connecting visually impaired travelers
If a person with a visual impairment find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, it can be quite a challenge to find their way around with efficiency. This is precisely the problem that the Be My Eyes app is working to solve.
When the person uses the Be My Eyes app, they are connected with the assistance of a sighted volunteer via a direct video line. The volunteer may then help that person negotiate unfamiliar surroundings. Available for iOS users.
2. Dragon Dictation: Communication for the hearing-impaired
Without a thorough knowledge of lip-reading or sign language, communicating with someone who is hearing-impaired can be a challenge. One of the most promising solutions to this problem is visual text — and, more specifically, speech-to text.
The Dragon Dictation mobile app is as all-in-one speech to text mobile app that is remarkably accurate and simple to use. More importantly, it saves valuable time from having to type out long sentences on a tiny smartphone keyboard. Available for iOS user.
3. Assistive Touch: Operating a smartphone with physical disabilities
For some smartphone users with certain physical disabilities, even the seemingly simple task of operating that phone can be difficult. However, with the Assistive Touch mobile app, activating smartphone operations are much easier.
Assistive Touch offers virtual buttons that allow users to navigate a device without actually having to touch it. Virtual home buttons, back buttons, screenshot buttons, and volume control — even turning the device on and off — are suddenly simple tasks to perform. Available for Android and iOS users.
4. JABtalk: Communication for nonverbal adults and kids
The JABtalk mobile app takes the text-to-speech functionality one step further to assist those nonverbal adults and kids better communicate with a complex world. This app includes the ability to build complex sentences, organize words into user-defined categories, and import pictures and audio.
It even includes a backup feature to transfer setting to a new device. It basically transforms any Android device into an AAC (augmentative and alternative communication) device. The app is in its developmental stage, so that it improves functionality the more you use it. Available for Android users.
5. Perfect Keyboard: Assisting with limited dexterity or vision
This mobile app is another in the line of tools to assist those with limited dexterity or vision impairments. Perfect Keyboard is a keyboard layout-focused app with settings that allow for increased key height, text size, and space between rows for easier perception.
The app improves clarity and reduces instance of hitting multiple keys at the same time — reducing the amount of time and potential errors when entering information. A premium version exists that enhances colors and includes gestures. Available for Android users.
6. SuperVision + Magnifier: Zoom-in on printed documents
The SuperVision+ Magnifier brings the world of the printed word to those with moderate to severe vision impairments. This magnification app uses the smartphone camera to zoom-in on printed books, documents, and images — all the while striking a balance between functionality and ease-of-use.
This mobile app not only maintains text and image clarity at high levels, it also includes an image stabilizer to assist those with shaky hands. The SuperVision+ Magnifier even offers a contrast black-and-white functionality with large buttons and text. Available for iOS and Android users.
7. NotNav and NowNav GPS Accessibility: GPS for the Blind
NotNav and NowNav GPS Accessibility is a simple GPS system that announces nearest street address and compass heading — including crosswalks, crossroads, and any other user-defined feature. It even includes turn-by-turn directions in an easy-to-use tech tool.
NotNav and NowNav GPS Accessibility operates by voice and can be adjusted for language and accent to meet most linguistic needs. A single, one-time-pay package includes a wealth of features to make this a solid choice for visually-impaired GPS requirements. Available for Android users.
8.Wheel Mate : Find wheelchair-accessible toilets and parking space
Finding accessible facilities can often be challenging in the urban environment. Here is an app to help you out. In particular, this app assists individuals to locate accessible parking and bathrooms when they’re on the move.