With technology at our fingertips, times have never been so good when it comes to improving accessibility within our lives. As people become more connected than ever, ingenious and inventive smartphone apps are helping to expand people’s lives, improve inclusivity, and aid in the participation of new activities.
For disabled people, too, smartphone apps can be life changing. Functionality that, in the past, might have cost hundreds or thousands of pounds can be available for a few dollars or even for free, and app and software developers are racing to create the best products that will make a real difference to people’s lives.
We’re all familiar with smartphone apps such as Google Maps, which help users to navigate themselves around the world – but what if you require something to assist you as a disabled person? What if Google Maps just isn’t cutting it when it comes to providing the information you require on accessibility? Well fear not – there’s brand new apps out there which are designed with disabled users in mind. Here are just a few examples below on some of the apps which you could download and use straight away!
ICE – In Case of Emergency
The ICE smartphone app (which has over 100,000 downloads on the Google Play Store) is a brilliant app which allows users to input all of their emergency contacts and information, which is then displayed on the lockscreen of your phone. This is fantastic in terms of protecting yourself when faced with the unfortunate experience of having a medical emergency. This app is useful for anyone – not just those who are disabled. Having information there and available to anyone who is tending to you during an emergency, can mean the difference between life and death. Information such as blood type, details on surgical requirements, contact information of your next-of-kin, it’s all relevant and can be super useful if readily available to health professionals. The fact that the information is on the phone lockscreen too means that it is visible to anyone who picks up your phone – regardless of whether they are able to unlock it.
With WheelMAP you can simply search for a location (say for example, Buckingham Palace in London) and it will pinpoint this location on the map, and then show you all of the accessible places which are located nearby. As well as this, users can review accessible places themselves and offer suggestions and advice for fellow users. The app has received over 50,000 downloads and on the Google Play App Store is rated at 3.8 stars out of 5 (results based on 743 reviews). The app is free of charge, and is a brilliant way to find and rate accessible venues, worldwide.
Tap to Talk
Tap to Talk is an app that can verbalise words for somebody who has trouble with their speech. The user simply clicks on words or symbols that are on the screen and the app ‘speaks’ on their behalf.
For anybody who has problems communicating, this app could make a significant difference to how well they can cope with their daily life. The app is free to download, and on the Google Play Store has over 5,000 downloads, with an overall rating of 4.0 stars out of 5 (based on 21 reviewers).
For Deaf people, not being able to make telephone calls can make life more difficult than it is for people who can hear. Roger Voice is an app that translates what a person says on the phone into text on the user’s screen, enabling telephone calls to happen even if one or both of the parties can’t hear.
The Miracle Modus is an app which was designed by someone living with Autism, who wanted an outlet which would help during periods of sensory overload. The app infuses rainbow colours with soft bells, in a soothing and calming way, to help alleviate symptoms of the aforementioned sensory overload. Not only is this app useful if you’re experiencing periods of high stress, but it’s also helpful when winding down after a long day. The app is available both on the Google Play Store and on the Apple Store.
Be My Eyes
For blind and visually impaired people, it is often the simplest issues that cause the biggest problems. Does this top match these trousers? Is this food out of date? Where is the exit to this shop?
Be My Eyes pairs up blind and visually impaired people with volunteers around the world who are willing to be their eyes. The blind person would use their phone’s camera to take a photo or video of what they are trying to see, and the volunteer can interpret it on their behalf.
For children and adults with learning disabilities, certain daily tasks can be confusing and difficult to remember. Stepping Stones is an app that allows users to create visual guides, or paths, to remind them of – or help them understand – regular activities such as making toast or doing the washing. Not only is the app amazing for providing guides and paths – but the reminders are a crucial tool for daily life when living with a learning disability.
This can make a really big difference to a person’s independence – allowing them to manage tasks that have been difficult in the past, or learn to do new things that interest them or are important for living independently.
If you’d like to see more examples of smartphone apps which you could download, then I recommend that you check out this comprehensive guide; “5 mobile apps for wheelchair users”.