It’s very rare nowadays to be far from a smartphone, tablet, or other mobile device, and we use them for just about everything – staying in touch with others, taking photos and notes, looking up directions, checking the hours of operation of our favorite restaurants, playing games, and catching up on social media, to name just a few. One of the biggest bolsters to the mobile device experience is applications (apps), which can add features or enhance existing ones. This goes for accessibility, too! Here, we’ve gathered a list of some mobile apps that make the day-to-day world more accessible by providing valuable assistance to people with disabilities, many of which may be helpful for your disabled students and/or employees (and maybe even you, too). All of the apps below are free, though some offer additional in-app purchases.
Envision is an app for iOS and Android is designed for those who are blind or visually impaired. It’s a straightforward app that uses a smartphone or tablet’s camera to articulate visual information to speech. But it’s not just limited to text – it can read handwriting and even recognize different objects. Envision is broken out into three main features: Instant Text, which quickly reads short texts like menus and signs; Scan Text, which is for items like articles, recipes, and includes layout detection; and Library, which allows for large-batch scanning and storage for longer documents, like books. If you’re looking for something especially high-tech, Envision also offers glasses that function like a hands-free version of the app, with additional features including recognizing light, faces, and colors.
Spoken is a text-to-speech app for iOS and Android. These kinds of apps can be a great aid for people with autism, aphasia, cerebral palsy, or speech disorders, those who have experienced a stroke, or anyone who may face difficulty communicating. However, Spoken goes further than most text-to-speech apps, which usually either present the user with rudimentary words or pictures to click on, or require the user to write out the entirety of what they want to say all at once before the app reads it aloud. The former can be very limiting to communication, and the latter involves undesired, long stretches of silence. Instead, Spoken utilizes user input, predictive technology, and AI to provide a list of not just words, but whole phrases that a user may be trying to express. The more one uses Spoken, the better it gets at predicting what one wants to say, making communication quicker, easier, and more natural.
The inverse of Spoken, in a sense, Live Transcribe is a speech-to-text app for people who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Developed by Google in partnership with Gallaudet University, Live Transcribe provides captions in real time by using speech recognition technology, then immediately displaying that speech as written text. The user can respond verbally or text their response into the app. Live Transcribe also has a feature that alerts the user when their name has been spoken, making it easier to participate in group conversations. The app is available in over 70 languages and even allows users to quickly switch between languages for bilingual conversations. Live Transcribe is currently only available for Google and Android, but there is an unassociated equivalent for iOS as well. iOS also has a similar built-in feature, Live Captions, for iPhone 11 and later, but it is currently only available for English (US or Canada) and is in beta.
STEM fields can involve a great deal of math, which can be challenging for those with dyslexia, dysgraphia, dyscalculia, autism, and other learning difficulties. That’s where ModMath comes in. ModMath offers a paper-and-pencil-free platform for doing a wide range of mathematics by providing virtual graph paper, where math problems can be set up in a format that’s easily legible. It also allows users to save pages in a searchable library, print their pages, upload to Box and other online cloud storage, and send pages via email or text. Currently, ModMath is only available for iOS and intended for use on iPad, but the developers are working on creating versions for Android and desktop.