We have received numerous requests to assist in locating Smartphone applications that are both accessible and designed specifically to make life a little bit easier for people who are blind or sight-impaired. To list the thousands of accessible applications that are now available would be virtually impossible as the list is expanding every day. However, we have encountered or been told about some very innovative apps that are both creative and very useful. We are happy to share these with you and would ask that you help contribute to this page by letting us know of any such apps that you have also encountered. We are pleased to post your suggestions here and urge you to submit your recommendation of an accessible app so as to allow us to share with others.
To make it easier to locate various applications on this page which is currently in its infancy stage, we have documented each application under its own header. By structuring the page in this manner, JAWS users can simply press the JAWS (Insert) key + F6 to create a list of applications and their brief descriptor. Arrow up or down through the list to find the app you wish to review and press “Enter” to jump ahead to that section of the page. You can also jump directly to a section for an app by pressing the first letter in the application’s name and then pressing “Enter” on your choice.
Window-Eyes users can scroll through the sections on this page by first pressing number 3 and then the letter h to move from application to application.
Just before we begin to list the various apps that blind and sight-impaired iPhone users have found useful and accessible, we wanted to share a gem of a resource that you may also find helpful. Through his monthly pod casts, Corey Ballard walks us through a number of accessible applications with his All with my iPhone audio tutorials. Corey provides pod cast tutorials for many of the applications which follow.
Alarmed – Reminder alerts, reusable timers, wake-up alarms and sleep timers
Alarmed offers a careful blend of simplicity and power. Super quick entry modes with a full arsenal of options when needed. The most awesome Wake-Up Alarm / Sleep Timer available. Over 75 custom sounds, snooze, repeating, pre-alarms and more. Are you alarmed?
Auriphi – An audio-only game for iDevices
Aurifi (Pronounced ‘or-if-eye’), produced by Punk Pie, is a ground-breaking, beautiful, challenging, rewarding Audio Game designed for sighted players but is even more enjoyable for blind or sight-impaired users! NOTE: Turning off Voiceover is a must, right after launching this game.
“Aurifi uses a finely-woven tapestry of sound effects and music to create a gaming experience unlike anything you have experienced before.” according to TouchMyApps
Aurifi combines the two things the iPhone and iPod Touch do best – music and organic interaction. You can play Aurifi with your eyes closed, this is a 100% sonic experience. In video games, players interact with graphics, moving them, aligning them, and reacting to them. In the Aurifi Audio Game, players interact with sound in very much the same way.
Aurifi is an ever-changing sonic landscape that is breathtaking. At the same time it invites you to react, control, fine-tune, identify and dial yourself into your surroundings. The bespoke musical elements are designed to help you feel moods, emotions and progression. Shake, slide and tilt to control the sounds and complete the challenges, and also contribute to the sound.
Video Game makers pour loads of time and effort into making the visual appearance of games spectacular. Punk Pie have done the same for the audio in Aurifi. Each sound element has been carefully crafted to provide you with a luscious experience that sounds incredible. It is recommended you wear earphones or headphones to play. Once you are plugged in to Aurifi, you will realize that the ‘game environment’ is massive – you interact with sounds in a 3D audio environment with intense depth. Punk Pie has designed Aurifi to ‘break outside’ of the device, and get away from the limitations of that small screen. You know that rush that you get when a big beat or bass-line come in on your favourite musical compositions? THAT is the reward in Aurifi – as you pass each micro-challenge, you hear another layer of the music, and they are designed to sound great. A staggering number of audio samples have been written to work with each other. This means they can mix-up the experience, so you very rarely hear the same music twice. No pre-defined musical path here – they’ve created an entirely new audio game engine to vary the audio experience each time you play.
If all this sounds great, but you want to hear it before you buy, we have created this link so that you can listen to the audio demo.
Blind Memory – A memory game
Blind Memory is a memory game, an adaptation of the old Simon Says, where you must repeat the sequence by sliding your finger in the direction given. Test your memory and find out how many directions you can repeat. This app was specially designed for the sight-impaired, it is compatible with VoiceOver and provides narration of all instructions. It is based on multi-touch gestures and saves your best score.
Dragon Dictation – A voice recognition application
Dragon Dictation by Nuance Communications is an easy-to-use voice recognition application powered by Dragon NaturallySpeaking that allows you to easily speak and instantly see your text or email messages. In fact, it’s up to five times faster than typing on the keyboard. With Dragon Dictation you can also dictate status updates directly to your Social Networking applications (Facebook and Twitter) or send notes and reminders to yourself…all using your voice. So when you’re on-the-go, stop typing and start speaking – from short text messages to longer email messages, and anything in between. Dragon Dictation supports a multitude of global languages. For a full list of currently supported languages visit Dragon Dictation home page.
Dragon Search – Search online content using your voice
Dragon Search by Nuance Communications is the Fast, Accurate and Smart way to search online content on your iPhone using your voice. Simply speak your search queries and get simultaneous results from a variety of top websites and content sources including: Google (or Yahoo!, depending on your default settings), YouTube, Twitter, iTunes or Wikipedia. The innovative Dragon Search Carousel allows you to quickly access results from multiple sources, and is a one-stop shop for all of your search needs, even when you are “Hands-Busy.” Dragon Search supports a multitude of global languages. For a full list of supported languages visit the Dragon Search home page.
iBlink – Radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to blind and visually impaired persons
The iBlink Radio application from Serotek Corporation is the world’s first application for the visually impaired for the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad! Radio stations, podcasts and reading services of special interest to blind and visually impaired persons; as well as their friends, family, caregivers and those wanting to know what life is like without eyesight.
All stations under Community Radio are owned and/or operated by persons with limited or no eye sight. Genres include oldies, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, alternative, classic Rock, Old Time Radio and more. This is a small sampling of SAMNet, Serotek’s award-winning online community dedicated to promoting the digital lifestyle to its low-vision and blind subscribers.
Reading services provide narration of newspapers, magazines, periodicals and other print publications including: USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and hundreds more.
Podcasts are produced by blind and partially sighted individuals, and cover topics including: broadcasting, computers, radio, technology, Independent Living, Travel, and much more.
GDB Mobile – Guide Dogs for the Blind’s social networking channels
GDB Mobile is a handy app that gathers all of Guide Dogs for the Blind’s social networking channels in one convenient place.
LookAround – Not a GPS application but an excellent orientation tool
Sendero GPS LookAround for the iPhone, with Voice Over, announces the current street, city, cross street, heading and nearby points of interest. Unlike Sendero’s other applications, there is no turn-by-turn navigation on the iPhone yet. No ads are displayed in LookAround.
Listen to Kevin Chau of Blind World’s “audio overview of Sendero’s LookAround iPhone app for a detailed insight of this apps orientation capabilities.
LookTel – Automatically scan and recognize objects such as money, packages, CD’s, DVD’s, and medication bottles
LookTel combines the power of a Smartphone with advanced “artificial vision” software to create a helpful electronic assistant for anyone who is Blind or sight impaired. You can use LookTel to automatically scan and recognize objects such as money, packaged goods, CD’s, DVD’s, and medication bottles, as well as landmarks. Point the device video camera at what you wish to “see” and it will pronounce the name very quickly in clear and easy to understand speech. LookTel can be taught to recognize all the objects and landmarks you wish to identify. With a small amount of help from a sighted assistant one can easily teach LookTel to be your helpful assistant for many tasks where vision makes a difference in your independence. LookTel also incorporates a text reader allowing users to get access to print media.
For more complicated visual tasks such as locating a specific street corner or bus stop, LookTel enables you to remotely connect to another person for assistance. Not only can you talk to them, but you can also transmit live video from the cell phone’s camera so that they can see your surroundings and help you with orientation, recognizing objects and media, and more. Your position will also be shown to them on Google Maps using the GPS services available on smart phones. These services aim to help users to independently go about daily activities with the confidence that they will have the assistance they need anytime, anywhere.
MP3 to iPod/iPhone Audio Book Converter – Converts MP3 files to mM4A files for use on an iPhone or iPod Touch
Many of the organizations and associated links within the “Audio Format” section of our Books, Magazines and Newsletters web page offer recordings in various formats – mainly the .mp3 file format. Users of the iPhone or iPod Touch will appreciate the MP3 to iPod/iPhone Audio Book Converter which converts any number of MP3 files into one big iPod Audio Book File. This enables you to use the advanced audio book functionality of your iPhone or iPod. These devices will remember the last position you were listening to in your audio book. So you can always start listening from the exact point from where you left off, even if you were listening to music or another audio book in the meantime.
NAVIGON MobileNavigator – A mobile navigation system
With the NAVIGON MobileNavigator by Navigon AG, you can transform your iPhone into a fully functional mobile navigation system that is every bit as good as the multi-award-winning personal navigation devices from NAVIGON in terms of its user-friendliness and features. Thanks to a faithful adaptation of the menu functions, the NAVIGON MobileNavigator fits in seamlessly with the operating concept of the iPhone. The application includes map material from the market leader NAVTEQ.
This application is not 100% accessible but is relatively blind-friendly and has received several recommendations from users who are blind or sight-impaired. It currently costs approximately $60.00 at time of posting this page. Compare accessible GPS applications before making this or any other GPS purchase.
Noggles By Delicious Monster Software, LLC takes a photo of anything in your world and visually searches Google for similar photos. Google can also read text and many barcodes, including QR codes. Noggles works best with business cards, games, DVDs, books, text, wine, and logos. Noggles is powered by Google Goggles, from Google labs. (They are great fans of, but aren’t affiliated with, Google.)
oMoby – A shopping tool to help you find products and information by simply snapping a photo
Have you ever been alone in the kitchen or a supermarket aisle wishing you had a pair of eyes to read the label on the package in your hand? Perhaps one of those expensive bar code readers would be helpful? Well…imagine if you could simply pull out your SmartPhone, snap a quick photo of the package and, in a matter of seconds, you would have the results!
oMoby is a shopping tool to help you find products and information by simply snapping a photo. Use the app to take a picture of any product you’d like to research or buy and it’ll provide links to retailers offering product information, reviews, prices, and more. You can also email yourself your search results to view them from your web browser.
oMoby uses computer vision, crowdsourcing and a little bit of magic to recognize images. When a search comes in, its innovative computer vision system can generally nail it in a few seconds; if that doesn’t work, it turns to a network of humans to help it out. Either way, the system learns over time, so the computer vision gets smarter with each search. oMoby is powered by IQ Engines’ image labeling engine.
Unlike a barcode search, oMoby searches the visual object itself. This means you can search for any product in the world, whether or not it has a barcode or text on it.
Although not designed specifically with accessibility in mind, this app is very much so. There are other features within this app which you can discover on your own. For example, once oMoby has identified a product, by selecting that product on the screen, you will discover other options such as the shopping option, the say it option and the dictionary. Should you elect to try the shopping option, we would suggest visiting the “Settings” menu within the app and turning on the “use GPS”. This will assist greatly in localizing the results for your area.
ooTunes Radio – Recording and Alarm Clock
ooTunes is arguably the most comprehensive & extensive radio app in the App Store. Its strongest asset [is] the large, global database of streaming radio stations. Experience the pure enjoyment of the music and voices of the world at your fingertips! Clean, crisp sound from over 28,000 Internet audio streams. Enjoy FM/AM live-broadcasts from over 150 countries. 1,350+ in Canada alone! Search the list on the ooTunes server.
Freedom of choice is yours! Like Reggae? Listen to seven reggae stations in Jamaica. Classical? How about WFMT in Chicago, WGBH in Boston, Minnesota Public Radio, Radio Swiss in Bern or classical stations from Melbourne to Montreal, Strasbourg to Sydney? Choose by genre (150 of them): Blues to Bollywood, Rap to Ragtime, Salsa to SKA, Talk to Techno. Find by country or cities of the world. Eavesdrop all over the world on local discussions, news and talk: even police calls. Left or right, listen to either side blather! Whether local or pro, catch the big game live, wherever you are.
As your favorite songs play, savor full-screen album art, sing along with the lyrics, bookmark for later, or pop over to watch it on YouTube, right in the app! Search and buy it right from iTunes. Automatic recording lets you hear it again and again!
Radio RooLette: See what’s playing on hundredss of stations at once. Tap to listen. It’s that easy. A great way to skip commercials, find new stations, or sample a variety of music.
Want to wake up to bedtime music from China? Set an alarm. Fall asleep listening, with a sleep timer. Record what you hear for a trip with no internet access. Find a song you hear on YouTube, all within one app. Are you a music junkie? Check out the ooTunes server to get your 50,000 track iTunes library on your 8 gigabyte iPhone. No other radio app has it all with full VoiceOver support for the visually impaired.
TransLink – Public transit information for Metro Van
Ever wondered when the next bus in Vancouver is coming? Guess no more! Check out the TransLink application by Handi Mobility to access complete schedules for buses, SkyTrain, WestCoast Express and SeaBus. You’ll also see service alerts, your favourite stops and access the GVRD transit maps.
Radio – The Best Radio App for the iPhone!
Listen to and record over 40,000 radio stations including thousands of AM and FM local stations on your iPhone, iPod touch or iPad with TuneIn Radio by Synsion Radio Technologies . Now with multitasking support for iOS 4! Named one of the Top 40 iPhone Apps of 2010 by TechCrunch! TuneIn Radio, with stations and features galore, is pretty much the ultimate iOS radio app.
VoCal – A voice reminder which integrates with your iPhone calendar
NOTE: This app requires the latest version of Apple iOS 4.2.1 to function. Over Half a Million reminders served! Thousands of hours saved by not having to type. Get the original and best voice reminder app. A great new concept we call VOICE REMINDERS – They are like Voice Memos, only, you are alerted to listen to them at the time and date that you choose! Fast and Simple: Easy as 1 2 3:
- Quickly record a reminder using your voice
- Set time and date for the reminder to alert you
- Tap save and close the app
The world is getting ever faster and more complex. My memory struggles to keep up with a growing number of things that must be done in life. Even typing can be cumbersome when on the move. Do we even need to have to type into our devices when we need a quick reminder in life? Surely just recording a Voice Message to myself and having it alert me at the right time would be the quickest and most painless way to make sure i never forget. VoCal – The Voice Calendar was born out of these thoughts and frustrations and now there is a way to provide this speed and simplicity to you, using the best platform to provide it, namely the iPhone.
YellowPages – Find what you want with ease
This is the one and only YellowPages, leader in local mobile search. You know it’s all about data, and we are the best. Collectively, over sixty million listings served monthly to our users.
NEW: Local movie “Showtimes” with trailers for iPhone’s and iPods.
FEATURES: Local movie “Showtimes” integration for iPhone includes trailers, descriptions, posters, ratings, driving direction, plot theaters on map, save favorite theaters, etc.
- Location auto detect
- Customize your location
- Results are displayed sorted by distance from you
- Add business info to your Contacts
- Share options through Facebook, Twitter, email, SMS
- Free map for driving directions through Maps
- Turn-by-turn voice navigation options if you have Navigon or TomTom apps already installed on your
- Easy shortcuts for most commonly used search terms like Pizza, Auto Services, Doctors, Restaurants, etc.
- When available, business ratings, descriptions, logos, website, etc.
Zany Touch – An entertaining game to practice iPhone and iPod Touch gestures
Initially, a touch screen interface may seem very awkward to a blind or sight-impaired iDevice user. But with some practice and a short investment of time, you will soon be swiping, tapping, double tapping, triple tapping, pinching and rotating with ease and comfort. But all of these gestures do take a while to get used to.
Within the Settings menu, double tap on General and Accessibility until you find the VoiceOver feature. Double tap on the VoiceOver feature and you will discover an area where you can practice these gestures. Practical but rather boring!
To spice up your gesture homework, there is a game called Zany Touch, which helps to test your gesture skills. The more gestures you correctly perform, the faster the game responds. The free version of this game limits the player to thirty gestures while the paid versions is limited only by your skill and rsponse level.
NOTE: in order to run this game you must disable VoiceOver. The simplest method of disabling VoiceOver is to set up your iDevice such that a triple press of the Home button will toggle VoiceOver on and off. Double tap on the Settings menue, double tap on General and then Accessibility. The last option within Accessibility is the Triple click home feature. Double tap on this and move to the Toggle VoiceOver option. Double tap on this and then you are permanently set. Now, from anywhere within your iDevice, you can press the home button 3 times in rapid succession to toggle VoiceOver on or off. This is a very convenient feature, especially when it comes to audio-based games.
So back to Zany Touch. Before turning off VoiceOver, explore the Zany Touch screen by sliding your finger around the game area. Double Tap on the “new Game” icon. Now, you need to choose your level. Run your finger in the middle of the display. From top to bottom you have, hard, medium and easy. Remember the location of the appropriate button. It’s now time to turn off VoiceOver with the Triple press of the home button. Once that is done, double tap on the location of the preferred level button and the game commences. Follow the audio instructions. When the game is over, triple press the home button to start VoiceOver. There’s a score board which you can explore on your own. Besides those various navigational caveats, this game is fairly accessible and incredibly addictive.
ZoomReader – A real time screen magnification, OCR reader of images, plus voice recognition
ZoomReader is compatible with iPhone 4 with iOS 4.2+ only. iPad2 is yet to be determined as of the date of this posting.
In combination with your iPhone’s built-in camera, ZoomReader lets you magnify and read printed text by first taking a picture of an object like a book or menu, then converts the image into text using state-of-the-art Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology. ZoomReader will then read the text back to you using a natural-sounding voice.
ZoomReader isn’t just for books – it can be used to read small print on a receipt, box, menu, or pill bottle – wherever there’s small text you can’t read yourself. Whether you’re on the go or you’re using ZoomReader to help you read a newspaper in the comfort of your living room, this quick and powerful program does everything a dedicated video magnifier can do – from the convenience of your iPhone and at a much lower price of just $19.99.
If you have trouble reading printed text, ZoomReader can help by allowing you to change the foreground and background colors, making everything easier on your eyes plus you can simultaneously adjust the magnification level. ZoomReader also leverages the iPhone’s built-in accessibility features such as Zoom and VoiceOver, and offers an affordable and easy to use solution in an all-in-one mobile device.
Developed from the ground up by Ai Squared, a leader in low-vision software, ZoomReader features a simple user interface with large, prominent buttons, and even offers voice control of the various features. ZoomReader is the newest iPhone app for the visually impaired and anyone else in need of a little visual assistance. You can watch the ZoomReader video that explains the functionality of ZoomReader. You can also go online to Mobile AI Square for more information and screen shots of the app itself!