Top apps for people with disabilities

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Anyone with a working smart device will know just how helpful apps can be. While many apps are out there for fun and entertainment purposes, there are some that exist to help people in a very meaningful way. We take a look at some of the apps that have been designed especially for people with disabilities.

Choiceworks

Available on: iOS only

What it costs: $10.99

What it does:
Choiceworks is a visual learning tool that can help you complete daily routines, understand feelings and improve waiting skills. The main function of the app allows you to create a visual schedule using your own photos, videos and audio recordings. It’s great for breaking down multi-step tasks and routines.

Who it’s for:
People who need help to map out their routines and break down complicated tasks. It has been designed for people with an intellectual disability, people with autism and children. If you know someone with a wall covered in visual reminders – this app is for them!

What we thought: This app is brilliant. In just 15 minutes we were able to map out a morning work routine complete with video and audio prompts. It’s easy to use and we could very quickly see how it could add real value to people.

Samsung LOOK AT ME

Available on: Selected Samsung devices only

What it costs: FREE

What it does:
This app uses photos, facial recognition tech and a series of games to help children with autism read emotions, remember faces and communicate with other people. Look At Me turns social interactions into a game.

Who it’s for:
Children with autism who would like to work on their communication and eye contact.

What we thought:
It’s actually really fun. You go through a series of games using your device’s camera. You accumulate points for every correct answer you get. Never have selfies been more educational! It is worth mentioning that the download is huge though (500MB of internal storage).

HearYouNow

Available on: iOS only

What it costs: FREE

What it does:
It’s a personal sound amplifier to help you hear and understand conversations better. It was developed by a Dutch manufacturer of hearing aids. It’s got plenty of features like adjustable volume per ear, a rewind function and the ability to focus on noises that are near or far.

Who it’s for:
People who have difficulties following and understanding conversations in noisy daily life.

What we thought:
In an office environment, this was tricky to test. When we flipped the toggle from near to far we were very surprised by how well it picked up a soft conversation happening across the office. We could see how it could be useful if you find yourself struggling to keep up with conversation in a noisy restaurant. It’s not perfect, but it’s worth a shot.

Be My Eyes

Available on: iOS only

What it costs: FREE

What it does:
Be My Eyes connects visually impaired people to a network of sighted volunteers. Whenever a blind or visually impaired person needs visual assistance, the app lets them call a helper who will explain what they are seeing through a live video connection.

Who it’s for:
This app has two main audiences:

  • People who are visually impaired
  • People who want to volunteer small amounts of time.

What we thought:
When you first open the app, you get the choice to access it either as a visually impaired person or as a volunteer. There are currently almost 500,000 volunteers for 35,000 visually impaired people. We entered the app as a volunteer and were warned that it can take a few weeks for you to get a call. While we haven’t received any calls yet, it really looks like a wonderful initiative.

Proloquo2Go

Available on: iOS only

What it costs: $399.99

What it does:
Proloquo2Go is a symbol supported communication app to promote language development and grow communication skills, from beginning to advanced communicators.

Who it’s for:
Children, teenagers and adults who need symbol support such as those who have autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, apraxia, stroke, traumatic brain injury and others.

What we thought:
Yep, this one is on the pricey side, but if you can get past that, we found it to be a great and intuitive piece of software. This app can and is changing lives, and giving people a voice, which is always a good thing.

Brio Nav/ Brio Smart (Navability)

Available on: iOS and Android in June 2018

What it costs: Unknown

What it does:
It’s like Google Maps for wheelchair users. The Navability algorithms use the wheelchair’s manoeuvrability, the environment (gradient, surface and obstacles) and the user’s ability to calculate the best route through the landscape.

Who it’s for:
Power and manual wheelchair users.

What we thought:
Using geographic data from Google maps, this app looks very promising in creating access for those in wheelchairs. We look forward to its launch around June this year! Stay tuned.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Endeavour Foundation.

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