In my last technology blog post back in August, I briefly discussed the impact of Apple’s mobile devices, including the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. When combined with the built-in VoiceOver screen reader, these devices go a long way to level the playing field for persons who are blind and visually impaired.
But what brings these devices to life, and significantly extends the reach of their impact are the many third-party apps purchased from the App Store. These free or low-cost apps provide persons who are blind the means to accomplish many daily living tasks which, until now, were only accessible with the use of additional and often quite expensive specialized devices.
In response to several requests, I am listing below, in David Letterman’s style, my top ten favorite apps I use often to accomplish various tasks. Obviously, this is not an exhaustive or by no means an absolute top list, as the choice of apps is highly personal and depends on one’s needs and interests. However, it will hopefully give you a starting point as you begin to explore your iDevice and begin identifying your own personal way you use it. Please do not hesitate to share your favorite apps and ways you use these devices to accomplish everyday tasks.
10: Fleksy (free demo) – using predictive text, it allows you to enter text more quickly without having to necessarily tap on the exact letters. As long as you are in the general vicinity, Fleksy guesses what you are trying to write; and, often, it guesses correctly.
9: LightDetector (free) – provides feedback for a totally blind person on amount of light in the environment. The higher the pitch the more light it identifies. Excellent for identifying a particular light source and/or to determine whether artificial lights are on or off in a room.
8: ViA (free): This app provides lists and recommendations of apps of interest to persons who are blind. In addition, it provides links to tutorials and any available podcasts on reviewed and/or recommended apps.
7: TextDetective ($1.99) – This app takes a picture of a printed page and translates the result into text. While not a perfect scanning solution, it does provide reasonable results.
6: Read2Go ($19.99) – When combined with a membership to Bookshare.org, this apps enables you easy download and access to thousands of books. The built-in speech synthesizer incorporated into the app is excellent and quite human-sounding.
5: oMoby (free) – this app uses the camera to identify objects, package foods, etc. It requires a data connection, as it compares the picture with a large database of objects on external databases.
4: VizWiz (free) – This app allows you to take a picture of an object, easily attach it to a question you record in your own voice and send it over the web to be promptly identified by a human web worker somewhere in the world. Sounds absolutely unbelievable, but it works!
3: Digit-Eyes ($19.99) – this app scans and reads barcodes on packages, audio cds, and many other objects. In addition to identifying the item, it often provides additional information such as nutritional and caloric contents of food packages, etc.
2: iBlink Radio (free) – this app provides audio access to a wide range of content both educational and entertaining. Of particular interest may be the many podcast feeds they include focusing on assistive technology, including reviews of new apps and devices, tutorials, etc. In addition, it provides access to a number of radio stations operated by persons who are blind or visually impaired.
And now for a drum roll, please....
My number one app is LookTel Money Reader ($9.99) – using the iPhone video camera, this app accurately and in just a couple of seconds recognizes paper currency, both of the United States and several other foreign currencies. Once you load the app, you simply hover the device six inches or so over the bill to be identified and, voila, VoiceOver will promptly and clearly announce the amount of the bill. This app works flawlessly, regardless of the age of the bill, whether it is straight or folded, etc.
Now after seeing my list, please comment and let us know which apps you have found useful.
For more detailed information or reviews about any of the Apple iPhone apps, you can visit www.applevis.com.