By Tracey Dowdy
We often talk about how technology has transformed our lives and made communication so much easier. That isn’t always the case, particularly for those with disabilities. Touch screens, small icons or settings that require fine motor skills can sometimes mean some features and functions are not accessible to some users.
Fortunately, there are many apps available for individuals with visual or hearing impairment or for those with physical disabilities. These are some of the best accessibility apps Android devices have to offer.
It’s Accessible was developed for the simple fact individuals with mobility issues need to know if a facility is accessible before they get there. Users can find lists of museums, retail stores, restaurants, bars and even parking lots that are disability-friendly, and because the information is crowd sourced, it is regularly updated. (Free)
JABtalk is a speech asp designed to help non-verbal children and adults communicate. It is highly customizable by supporting text-to-speech, which allows users to import audio or create their own audio commands. In addition, users can select online images, import from a memory card or use the device’s camera to create personalized icons. The app also features heptic feedback (vibration) when users touch a word or category to provide immediate physical feedback. There are online tutorials available here. (Free)
HelpTalk is a communication app designed for those that struggle with oral or written communication. The app comes with a list of basic sentences but users can create a custom profile or use visual icons to communicate instead. For users with limited motor skills, the app features large “yes” and “no” buttons and also features an emergency phone number that message users can tailor to their specific situation. Available in 12 languages. (Free)
Guide Dots “combines Google Maps, Facebook and powerful crowdsourcing technology to provide the visually impaired a broader awareness of the world around them.” With an interface designed specifically for the visually impaired, Guide Dots uses your voice commands and corresponding audio cues to enable you to get around. The apps syncs with Facebook, so users can find friends and check in to nearby locations. (Free)
IFTTT stands for “If this, then that” and is designed to help users automate their lives. IFTTT works with over 360 apps including Twitter, Spotify, Instagram and Google Drive, as well as with other Android devices like Alexa, Nest and Hue. Depending on the devices involved, users can have email and text messages read aloud, control the thermostat, get weather reports every morning, and turn out the lights at the end of the day. (Free)
Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.