For most people, technology plays a pivotal role in everyday life and how they interact with the world. For people with disabilities, technology- including smart devices- has been an important factor in supporting and improving accessibility in their everyday life. Below are some apps that ease the barriers faced by some in everyday tasks or interactions.
Be My Eyes- (Free on Android and IOS)
- The app connects blind and visually impaired individuals with volunteers around the world to assist them with everyday tasks. The video chat feature allows volunteers to help with tasks ranging from checking the expiry date on food to reading a sign or posters. Typically, the meetings are very brief, lasting only a few minutes, but they’re an easy way of making a difference in someone else’s day.
Access Now- (Free on Android and IOS)
- A community and volunteer dependent app (and website!) that works to inform people of a location’s accessibility. The app allows users to search and find accessible places based on ratings of being accessible, partially accessible, or not accessible at all. Users are able to filter the locations based on a variety of categories, including but not limited to: being service-animal friendly, having automatic doors, and having large print for the visually impaired. A new addition to the website and app, is the ‘Accessible from Home’ feature, which lists businesses that provide at-home services. Although the app doesn’t have information on every store or location, and the descriptions for a location’s rating are often quite brief, the information is kept updated and accurate. Volunteers are able to contribute by creating an account and rating places within their community
Live Transcribe- (Free on IOS)
- With masks becoming mandatory in many cities around the world, its particularly difficult for deaf and hard of hearing people to lip-read or communicate with others. As a speech-to-text app that offers live-captioning for deaf and hard of hearing people, this app may be of particular help in easing communication barriers that exist now more than ever. The app appears to be fairly accurate in its transcription and transcripts can be shared in messaging apps or stored on the device. It can recognize over 50 languages as well, and can be used offline. The app has features that offer additional accessibility options, such as different font sizes and a quick-reply text option that help conversations flow a little easier for those who are hard of hearing. One particularly notable feature is its clean interface that allows users to break up the text as needed, for improved readability, and ease of use.
Google Live Transcribe- (Free on Android)
- Although not identical, Google does offer an alternative for Android devices. With similar features of real-time text to speech options, the app can recognize over 70 language, and possesses the ability to switch between languages during bilingual conversations. Moreover, the app can automatically correct a transcript if the word wasn’t as predicted. However, unlike Live Transcribe on IOS, it cannot be used offline and requires a wifi (or data) connection to use.
The website referenced offers a more thorough list of apps for a range of disabilities including dyslexia, autism, visual and hearing impairments, Alzheimer’s and dementia. Although some of the apps listed are no longer available or cost a few dollars, the majority should be free for both Apple and Android devices.