There is a wide variety of visual aid apps available on the app store, however, navigating the app store to find the right one can be a nightmare. You often have sift through so much to find what you need. Apps often have countless variations, which makes choosing the right one feel like a shot in the dark. Sometimes it’s also hard to know what kind of apps are even available. Below is a list of some of the most useful apps for people who are visually impaired.
Seeing AI is a free app that describes the world around you. It was designed to help visually impaired people with a wide variety of daily tasks.
The app features a scanning function which analyses a document and then reads it out. It can work with short text such as signs and labels as well as full pages of text. You can scan anything from documents to restaurant menus to posters, and the app will read the text that is on the page.
The app can scan bar codes making grocery shopping much more accessible. It uses audio beeps to guide you to the barcode and then proceeds to read the product’s name, and package information whenever it is available.
You can take a picture and the app will describe the scene. If it’s a photo of a person, the app will estimate their age, gender, and expression.
The app is able to describe photos saved on your device, as well as photos from other apps such as Facebook, email, or Instagram.
The app can also recognise currency as well as colours.
Seeing AI is available for Apple products but if you have an Android device, there is a very similar app available, called Google Lookout.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is a free app that connects visually impaired people seeking assistance with volunteers who are ready to provide support.
To use the app you can use your camera-enabled smartphone to request video support completely anonymously, at any time, day or night. You can call the app’s volunteers for any task where you require assistance. A specialised help partner is also available for professional support. You can ask assistance with almost anything: to ask whether a product has reached its expiry date, for help with setting up a thermostat, getting a printer to work properly, and much more!
If you are sighted you can also become one of the app’s volunteers and receive calls from users.
EasyReader is a free app available for Apple and Android. It makes reading more accessible for people who are visually impaired.
With EasyReader you can access a vast and diverse selection of books from RNIB Libraries, Project Gutenberg, Bookshare, and Calibre Audio. You can follow along to the audio with a text version of the book. The text can be customised in a number of ways to enhance your experience: adjust and magnify the text, change colour schemes, synchronise text with speech, or just use the speech settings alone.
You can also copy text from the other websites and paste it into the app to hear it.
If you are interested in a text to speech app with even more features, consider a paid app called Voice Dream which is available on the Apple App Store.
Voice Dream is able to read files and documents in formats such as PDF, EPUB, Microsoft Word, Daisy Audio, as well as many others. You can also upload from a variety of sources including, Google Drive, Gutenberg, Bookshare, or any Website.
You can follow along to the audio with customisable text that highlights each individual word and auto-scrolls along with the audio.
Don’t like the voice that’s reading your book? No problem! Voice Dream includes more than 200 voices in 30 languages.
The app also includes functions for writing and note taking, as well as scanning documents.
Magnifier (Apple) / Magnifier + (Android)
These apps are available for free and offer an easy way for visually impaired people to observe objects around them.
You can enlarge a nearby object or text in order to see it better, and use a variety of adjustable settings such as, brightness, contrast and colour filters, a flashlight, as well as the ability to freeze the frame.
Just point your phone at the bill and Cash Reader will tell you the denomination instantly. There’s no need to worry about getting the lighting, focus, or angle right. The app’s sophisticated technology can capture the bill from any view and accurately identify it.
The app works for a variety of currencies from across the world and doesn’t need wi-fi to function, making it perfect for travelling.
If you are in a loud or crowded place you can also use the app in silent mode. The app will tell you the denomination of the bill through vibration.