New Jersey lawyer focusing on special education law and employment law


iPhone Apps that Help People with Disabilities Be More Independent

Caption: Photo of the Apple iPhone

One of the great things about the Apple iPhone is that users can download many fun and useful applications that are easy to use and serve specific purposes. Apple’s iPhone Dev Center allows computer programmers around the world to develop iPhone applications for any specific purpose and share it with others for free (or for a fee). The iPhone is less than 3 years old (it was first released in January 9, 2007 according to Wikipedia), and many iPhone developers have created apps for people with various disabilities to help them be more independent. What follows is by no means an exhaustive list:

For the blind and visually impaired:

  • AccessTech News has compiled an outstanding list of iPhone applications that will work with VoiceOver.
  • While it’s still under development, the folks at Velti recently reported that scientists at iVisit have designed an iPhone app that will “recognize a variety of everyday objects.”
  • Although it’s not quite a standalone app, Bruno Fosi designed a Silicon iPhone touch case that provides tactile feedback.  No word when exactly it’ll be launched on the market.

For children with autism or developmental delays:

  • Proloquo2Go is a “natural sounding text to speech” app.
  • iConverse “displays 6 different icons that represent a person’s most basic needs. When activated by touch, the icons give both an auditory and visual representation of the specific want or need.” This is reviewed in Scothoser’s Corner.
  • iCommunicate is an app that develops a storyboard, which is “a collection of pictures that convey a concept.”
  • iReward is designed to reinforce a certain behavior by providing motivation and a reward, e.g., a gold star, a new toy, etc.

For individuals with speech disorders:

  • Locabulary appears to be a text-to-speech app that is based on your GPS location.
  • Proloquo2Go is a “natural sounding text to speech” iPhone app.

For the Deaf and hard-of-hearing:

  • Tunewiki is a fantastic (and free) app works like closed captioning for radio. When a song plays on the radio, a small box at the bottom of the screen shows the lyrics, line by line. Note: the lyrics will only scroll appropriately at the beginning of each song. If you switch stations to the middle of the song, the lyrics will appear, but it will not point to the appropriate line until the beginning of the next song.
  • Imagine turning your iPhone into a hearing aid. The purpose of SoundAMP, Amplitude, and iHearClear are to amplify sound. (To read a written review about SoundAMP, see TechCrunch. Reviews about Amplitude may be found at the AppleInsider and the The Apple Blog.)
  • iPhone users who are just learning American Sign Language can learn over 800 words in ASL with iSign. A good review of this app and an explanation of iSign’s limits may be found at ATMac.
  • While it’s not an iPhone app, it’s worth mentioning that AT&T is offering a discounted plan for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. The plan is $40 per month and includes unlimited SMS messages, unlimited data usage, and Visual VoiceMail. For the link and more info, see The Boy Genius Report. As reported in Gizmodo, there is apparently an “eligibility application” to qualify for the discount.

For the dexterity challenged:

For individuals with diabetes:

To find more apps, check out The Best iPhone App Review Sites for a list of blogs that provide good reviews of iPhone apps.

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    There are 5 comments. Add Yours.

    Lisa Johnson

    Hi Matthew,
    I just came across your article. We are the makers of iCommunicate and iReward. Thanks for the mention. It was nice to learn about some of the other apps that are out there for people with disabilities.
    Thanks again,
    Lisa Brandolo Johnson

    Sarah Norman

    Great article! Lots of useful information. It’s exciting that more options are steadily becoming available for people with disabilities.

    Sarah Norman
    Social Media Intern
    Easter Seals Crossroads

    Ricky Buchanan

    G’day Matt,

    Thanks for the mention of ATMac articles – much appreciated!

    You’ll wish to note that the list of applications which work with VoiceOver was not compiled by AccessTech news, but republished from who are now known as Mac-cessibility Network. The most current version contains many more apps and can be found at


    Michael Axtens —

    Hi Matt.

    You might like to check out nosedial (just released). I have a brother with a disability and we are going to try it out so that he can access and dial contacts with some very simple gestures on the screen. I have no association with the software developers, just saw a video demonstrating it. I downloaded it and it seems to work as described.