Apps designed to make life better
With the internet now being such a big part of daily life, it’s hard to remember how it was possible to get along in a time without it. Smartphones, tablets, and computers allow us all to live more independently in the world around us. We can order groceries, read books, watch movies or television, make hotel reservations, or map out driving routes online—the whole world avails itself to us through the internet. For every hobby, task, or necessity in life, there’s an app for that!
For people with disabilities, living as independently as possible in today’s world includes the use of technology and apps. So what are some of the best apps out there to make life simpler for people with mobility challenges or special needs? Everybody has their favorites, but we’ll take a look at a few of our client’s top choices.
JABtalk is an app to help non-verbal people communicate. It combines personalized voice and images with a simple user interface. JABtalk is fun to use and easy to learn. Originally designed as a communication tool for children with special needs, it has evolved into a communication tool used by many. This app can build sentences from words, use haptic feedback (vibration) when touching a word or category for immediate physical feedback, capture pictures directly from your device’s camera, record your own audio using your device’s microphone, and utilize text-to-speech if you don’t want to record or import your own audio files.
Quick Talk AAC Another communication app is Quick Talk AAC. It provides assistive technology that can equip those who are non-verbal with the ability to communicate. Some Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices and apps are expensive and complicated, but this app is a more affordable option for anyone with access a mobile phone or tablet. The app’s developers applied the advice from speech therapists, educators, and AAC device users. Some of the features offered with this app include easy navigation, a library of 11,000 symbols developed by a speech pathologist, quick access to yes/no from every screen, the creation of unlimited profiles and categories, and text-to-speech as well as personal audio.
Brailworks.com has a variety of useful apps for the visually impaired, including a money reader app, a reader app that reads virtually anything out loud, and a visual assistance app for a blind person in need of help through a live remote video connection. With the press of a button, the app establishes a live video connection between blind and visually impaired users and sighted volunteers.
The Google app is a quick way to get answers, explore interests, and receive news feeds. You can use a touch screen or just say, “Okay Google” and ask away! Search any topic and you’ll have numerous options to explore from the web. Google will also automatically optimize results to improve loading on bad connections and if a search can’t be completed, you’ll get a notification with the search results when a connection is regained.
Google has also recently improved its efforts to include handicapped accessibility to its Google Maps. Spawned by a 125,000 signature petition for improved information on wheelchair accessibility, Google now provides for crowdsourcing that information in its app. They’re asking for volunteers to provide more detailed information for mobility impaired users. So this app is already one that has usefulness for you in planning outings, and you can help to improve it by providing your own input on locations and venues you’re familiar with!
Another Google tool you can use to help improve the accessibility of apps is Accessibility Scanner. This app scans for and suggests accessibility improvements for Android apps and does not require the user to have technical skills. You simply open the app you want to scan, tap the Accessibility Scanner button to find items in the app that would benefit from accessibility improvements like enlarging small touch targets or increasing contrast. You can then use the app to suggest changes to developers, or make them yourself. To begin using Accessibility Scanner:
– Navigate to Settings > Accessibility
– Locate and turn on Accessibility Scanner
– In the app that you want to scan, tap the Accessibility Scanner button
*Permissions Notice: Because this app is an accessibility service, it can observe your actions, retrieve window content, and observe text that you type.
Share your favorite apps with us!
This is just a short list of helpful apps we’ve learned about through our mobility-challenged clients in the know. Explore those that might be of value to you and share other apps you’ve found useful in making life better in the comments!