Today people are constantly texting, tweeting, instagramming, etc., on their phones and do not know how to function without them. For many individuals who are visually impaired or blind like Nina, the iPhone (or similar smartphone) is a lifeline which is used for everyday tasks as well as for recreational purposes. I had heard so much about the accessibility of the iPhone, along with all of its built-in features, that I decided to purchase one. Despite my misgivings about using a touchscreen without vision, I was double tapping and swiping through pages and applications in no time.
The various applications available on the iPhone (and many other smartphones) allow visually impaired and blind people like me, to navigate new areas, read and convert print materials, listen to books and music, use social media, and much more.
Apps for Visually Impaired and Blind People
Below is a list of my favorite applications that I use the most.
The following two apps are both made by Sendero which has a history of successful GPS navigating systems for the blind and visually impaired.
- Sendero GPS LookAroundallows you to listen to the name of the nearest address, the street you are on, the next cross street, and points of interest. It does not give turn by turn directions.
- The Seeing Eye GPS was created by the Sendero Group and the Seeing Eye Inc., the oldest guide dog school in the world. This system gives much more information. Some of the features include the descriptions of intersections, turn by turn directions and recalculating when you go off the route, points of interest, and the ability to get directions as a pedestrian or as a driver.
- The NFB Newsline App gives you access to newspapers, magazines, job postings, store catalogs, and much more.
- The Prismo app is used to take pictures of print materials which can then be read aloud. This app also can open “empty pdfs” which are often not clear with a screen reader and a PC.
- LookTel Money Reader helps to identify the denomination of a bill (1, 5, 20, etc.)
- Color Identifier tells you the color of any object, piece of clothing, etc.
My iPhone has now become a tool which I utilize each day, from navigating a new area in downtown Philadelphia to downloading a book on grant writing. I still use my laptop and BrailleNote, but I can now leave these behind and remain confident that I can skirt accessibility obstacles with my iPhone as it is a lot lighter compared to lugging around more bulky assistive technology devices. There are still small bugs with the iPhone and mobile sites that are not accessible, but in my opinion, the pros of built-in Voiceover and countless accessible applications outweigh the cons.