Apps For Blind And Visually Impaired
It has been said that technology has made the world smaller, but for the blind or those with poor vision, iDevices are opening up a whole new world. This AppList highlights some of the most innovative and entertaining apps available to the vision impaired. Now, with the aid of an iPhone, the blind can virtually see color, light, paper money and much more. Be on the lookout for our new AppList: Entertainment Apps For The Visually Impaired. Did we miss any? Feel free to send suggestions to [email protected]
In a world that relies on visual clues to navigate, exploring a city or taking a solo walk is no longer a challenge for the visually impaired. Ariadne GPS is a new app that brilliantly meets the needs of the blind in an easy to use interface. Talking maps allow you to explore the world around you by moving your finger around the map. While exploring, crossing a street is signaled by vibration. It has a favorites feature and can be used to announce stops on the bus or train. Rotating maps keep you centered, with territory behind the user on the bottom of the screen and what is ahead on the top portion. Available in multiple languages, Ariadne GPS works anywhere Google Maps are available. This is a must-have application for the visually impaired.
LookTel Money Reader
The United States Treasury was careful to mint each coin with a unique size and edge. This way the value of each coin can be determined just by touch. Unfortunately, with paper money this is not the case. Before the iPhone, the visually impaired would have to rely on a sighted person to tell them the denomination of each paper bill, then they would employ a special fold or other tactile technique to remember. This is no longer necessary thanks to an amazing application called LookTel Money Reader. Using just the camera on the iPhone, LookTel flawlessly announces the denomination of paper money. The developer is also working on other cutting-edge applications that will expand the technology to reading labels and more.
Color ID Free
Are there clouds in the sky? Is the iPod done charging? What color are the pants I just tried on? Does this tie match? Is the tomato ripe yet? Is this lip liner or eye liner? Is the sour cream moldy? Color ID Free is here to answer all these questions and more. Just point the iPhone camera at any item and it will announce the color for you. Brilliantly simple and easy to use, this application will open a new world to those who cannot see. It is amazingly accurate and can even find very subtle differences in color. It offers a setting for basic colors, such as "pale yellow green" or more advanced colors such as "fresh apricot." For our tests we found the basic setting to be far more useful.
This is a very handy app that simply emits a sound which intensifies as a light source is found and approached. Light Detector will help find any lights left on or locate windows and exits. Basic but functional, this application does what is says and does it well.
Did you ever wish you could order a taxi without having to deal with calling a dispatcher? Would you love to know the current location of the taxi as it approaches? With Taxi Magic you can book a taxi right on your iPhone with ease for free. All it takes is a few taps of the screen and your taxi will be dispatched. Taxi Magic can also track your taxi expenses for you. Additionally, for a processing fee of $1.50, you can pay your taxi fare in advance with a credit card! Taxi Magic works in over 4000 cities and is a must-have for those who rely on taxi service.
Voice Brief - text to speech voice assistant for news email and more
Voice Brief is a great utility for anyone, but for the vision impaired it is particularly useful. With the touch of a button Voice Brief reads your email, Twitter feed, weather, stock prices, RSS and Facebook feeds. This time saving app is fully configurable and works flawlessly. The voices are natural and clear. Are you interested but hesitant to spend the $3.99 on VoiceBrief? Then we have great news! There is a free lite version so give it a try at no risk.
VM Alert - Video Motion Detector
Are you tired of your fellow employees startling you by approaching quietly? Need a gentle warning that you are no longer alone? VM Alert is a fantastic app that detects motion and warns you with either a mellow tone or an alarm. It can also snap a photo when it detects motion. If you are traveling and alone this app can give you peace of mind. We have an ancient yellow labrador retriever who tends to sneak up to the window behind me as I work and bellow out a heart-stopping bark. I found VM Alert to be 100% accurate at warning me of his approach. I also used it to alert me when my teenager arrived home in the evening.
Remember walkie-talkies? HeyTell is the ultimate cross between walkie-talkies and texting. It connects to people in your contacts list and sends an email or text asking them if they want to communicate with you. Once they accept, all that you need to do is press a button and speak. Once you release the button your voice message is sent. The interface is clean and works perfectly with VoiceOver. HeyTell is a great way to send a quick message and communicate with one another on the run.
This feature-rich application allows users to record and organize lists using audio or text. List Recorder is designed to integrate with VoiceOver as well as Braille displays. Replay, sort, delete or email recordings with ease using custom gestures such as tilt and tap. The recording quality is excellent and the app has options such as a level meter, optional stereo and your choice of recording formats. The light version, which limits the user to 10 seconds per recording, is a great way to test List Recorder. If you like it, you have the option of buying the full version for $7.99 as an in-app purchase.
oMoby searches the Internet using photos taken with your iPhone camera and works well with VoiceOver. We tested it by using a photo of our laptop mouse. It correctly identified it as a Logitech mouse. We were then presented with options to shop or search for more information. oMoby allows use of images from the iPhone photo library and supports some code scanning. We found it to be slower than using Google Search verbally, however oMoby could be very useful because of its unique image recognition. Lastly, oMoby is free, so you have nothing to lose by trying it.
Wish you had someone handy to tell you what something was or to clarify something any time of the day or night? VizWiz is an amazing application that is extremely effective. Simply take a picture of any object and record your question. Then select whom you wish to send it to. Your choices are Web Worker, IQ Engine, email or Twitter. Web worker is a human volunteer who will review and answer your question. In testing we took a photo of a bottle of foundation makeup. We then asked "Is there any sunscreen in this foundation?" In less than 30 seconds we received an accurate answer from a Web Worker "Yes, the foundation has 15 SPF sunscreen. Another choice for response is IQ Engine, a character reader. The response from the IQ Engine was to recite the product UPC code. While the IQ Engine was not accurate, we do see where it could be handy for getting serial numbers or other numerical data. Email allows you to send your question to someone you know from your contacts and Twitter will tweet your question to your followers. We were impressed by VizWiz, and did we mention it is free?
Evernote has been around nearly since the beginning of the AppStore. This powerhouse application stores voice notes, photographs and text so that they can be accessed from multiple devices. Photographs are scanned for text which can then be searched. Evernote has VoiceOver support.
Yellow Pages is a free app that allows you to search via voice for a business or person nearby. Once located, the number and information can either be added to your contacts or called directly. It works in the United States. It also has a ratings feature for businesses and offers movie times for theaters.
Use the GPS on your iPhone to find a great restaurant nearby. Urbanspoon allows searching by type of food, ratings or distance, or you can simply shake your iDevice to find a random eatery. Add reviews for others to see when you go out. Urbanspoon takes the guesswork out of choosing a restaurant and has full VoiceOver support.
If you are not fortunate enough to own an iPhone 4S with Siri, Dragon Dictation is vital. Do not have time to use your iPhone keyboard with VoiceOver? Simply speak, adding punctuation as needed verbally, and Dragon Dictation will type it up in an instant and copy it to your clipboard. This app has a small learning curve and is truly essential. Best of all it is offered for free!
Awareness! The Headphone App
For the visually impaired using headphones, Awareness! The Headphone App, is essential. It allows you to listen to your headphones while also hearing the sounds around you. It uses the microphone to feed in noises as you listen to music or use another app. Hear a car approaching or a doorbell ringing! Using Awareness, you will not miss those vital audio clues that keep your day on track.
Alarmed ~ Reminders + Timers
It is important to be organized when visually impaired. Unfortunately, many of the organizational apps are not VoiceOver friendly. On the suggestion of a reader we tested out Alarmed ~ Reminders, Timers, Alarm Clock. To our delight we found that it is a very user friendly app and is fully accessible with VoiceOver. What makes it truly awesome to us it that it is really several important apps in one. It has a robust notes area with reminders and a "nag me" mode that is brilliant at repeating an alarm until you shut it off. It has a multi-feature timer, alarm clock with snooze option and a sleep alarm. All give a choice of a lot of sounds- many of which are fun and off-beat. It also has a flashlight, if you triple tap on the open clock control panel VoiceOver will say, "the flashlight is on." The app is offered for free because the developer feels that people should be able to try out an app before you buy it. Through an in-app purchase you can unlock advanced features. For $1.99 you will get more alarm sounds as well as the ability to set interval timers for doing repetitive chores, switching laundry or to just get up and exercise. This app has a very well deserved 5 star rating.
Would you love to have an accessible, easy texting app that automatically adds your contacts from your address book? What if it had no data limits and used your regular phone number so you would not have to remember passwords or logins? Meet WhatsApp Messenger, a free and easy way to chat with your friends as much as you want. It even allows group chats and saves any messages you get while not on your phone or off the application so you never miss a text.
Need to know the local weather forecast? How about a warning for severe weather so you will not be caught unprepared? WeatherBug offers up-to-date weather reports and a forecast for the next 24 hours or the next week. If you are a weather buff, it will even tell you the barometric pressure, dew point and humidity.
AutoRingtone Pro Talking Caller ID Ringtones
Wouldn't it be helpful to really personalize ring tones for each of your contacts and have the ring announce the caller? AutoRingtone Pro Text To Speech CallerID Ringtones allows you to do just that! It is fully accessible via VoiceOver and the navigation and instructions are clear. You can even choose from different voices and control the speed that the voice speaks.
Feeddler RSS Reader Pro
Feeddler RSS Reader Pro is the ultimate RSS reader. It caches articles for off line reading and allows you to star, unstar, mark all as read and much more. You can add notes and lets you post to Facebook too. Pretty much any feature you could hope for in your RSS reader, Feeddler has. It even works with Evernote. This app came strongly recommended by our low vision readers, and we could not agree more.
Talking Scientific Calculator
Talking Scientific Calculator is just that, a talking scientific calculator. It is easy to operate and very useful. It has different voices to chose from or even allows you to record your own voice. There is a free version to play with if you want to test it first. It works with VoiceOver for the fully blind, or has a high contrast options for those with low vision.
Stitcher Radio allows you to create your own playable station of all your favorite content. News like CNN, BBC, music and podcasts are organized to listen to seamlessly like Pandora Radio. Stitcher also helps you find new and interesting content by showing the other programs users are listening to.
Capti Web Player
** Please note that Capti is working on an upgrade to fix bugs that effect voiceover. The update should be available soon. Please watch the Capti AppStore Page for information.** Capti Web Player is a web reader that allow you to create a "playlist" to read later. It works great with Instapaper.com and eBooks such as those found on Gutenberg.org. It has a built in browser and it is fully accessible with VoiceOver. Capti extracts main content from web pages and automatically loads articles that are split into multiple web pages. You can add a web page to the playlist by press-and-holding a link to that web page (double-tap and hold with Voice Over).
Having low vision can be frustrating, especially when friends and family cannot relate. For those suffering from macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataracts, there is now an app that will show sighted people the world through your eyes. VisionSim, developed by the Braille Institute, turns on the camera of the iPhone with filters the lens with distortion that mimics the selected eye condition. On the screen for each filter there is a "learn more" button with information. This app is well though out and is offered for free.
Do you miss the days of clocks and watches that chimed the current time? It is easy to lose track of time, so when an AppAdvice reader suggested Chime for this AppList I eagerly downloaded and set it. It has the option to chime on the quarter, half or hour and there are different alerts to chose from. Three are variations on a chirp and two are simulated human voices, one female and one male. Chime is now always running on my iPhone and works great.
MotionX GPS Drive
Navigon GPS used to hold this spot on our AppList until the latest update rendered it inaccessible with VoiceOver. MotionX GPS is not perfect but it will read turn by turn directions. It performed well while walking. For $.99 you can test out the app for 30 days. After the trial period there is an annual fee of $9.99. Additionally, several upgraded voices are available, each as an in-app purchase.
5-0 Radio Pro Police Scanner (Extra Feeds)
If you hear sirens approaching and are curious as to what the emergency is, you now have an inside tool. Just turn on your iPhone and you can use 5-0 Radio Pro Police Scanner to listen in on your local emergency bands. Informative and interesting, 5-0 features live scanner feeds from over 35,000 fire, emergency, air traffic, railroad, police and more. If you want to test it out there is a free version. This is a must-have app if you live in an area that has the potential for natural disaster.
RxmindMe Prescription / Medicine Reminder and Pill Tracker
For those who take medication, Rxmindme Prescription / Medicine Reminder and Pill Taker is a fantastic reminder app. It sends you alerts you when it is time to take your medication and also will keep track of how many pills you have left and when to re-order. It also has a medication database included. It is VoiceOver friendly.
Glucose Buddy - Diabetes Logbook Manager w/syncing, Blood Pressure, Weight Tracking
One of the unfortunate risks of being diabetic is loss of vision. Keeping track of blood sugar levels is vital to remaining healthy, and Glucose Buddy is here to help. This award-winning app allows users to manually enter their numbers, exercise and food consumption into a log that is uploaded to a private account at GlucoseBuddy.com. The online web site also has other features such as an A1C estimator. If you are diabetic with low vision this app is waiting to help you stay healthy.
TripIt - Travel Organizer - FREE
Does traveling overwhelm you? It can be difficult keeping track of your plans and information. Take the stress out of travel by using Tripit- Travel Organizer. Simply forward your confirmation email to Tripit.com and Tripit will create your itinerary right on your iPhone Tripit app. Tripit recognizes confirmations from over 3000 booking sites for crusises, airlines, concerts and other entertainment venues. It is integrated with email and Facebook if you wish to share.