iPhone Apps that Help People with Disabilities Be More Independent
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:
- A Special Phone allows the user to shake the iPhone a number of times, and it will dial the number that you want. A review of the Special Phone (along with a six minute video demonstration) may be found at the iPhone App Reviews blog.
- FluidTunes gives the user “control over your music using only a camera, and your hands, head, or feet.”
- Paul Natsch’s post, iPod Touch Apps for the Dexterity Challenged, reviews two speech recognition apps: Voxie and Vocalia.
- See also Ricky Buchanan’s iPhone Voice Commands.
For individuals with diabetes:
- Users can “manage” their diabetes with Glucose Buddy. A video demonstration of this app may be found here.
- Manny Hernandez at tudiabetes.com found three other iPhone diabetes apps (DiabetesLog, DiaMedic, and GlucoseLog). Read users’ personal perspectives in the comments section at the tudiabetes.com blog.
- There’s an interesting product called LifeCase & LifeApp System designed by two graduate students who won a $10,000 prize. This product is not yet on the market, however.
To find more apps, check out The Best iPhone App Review Sites for a list of blogs that provide good reviews of iPhone apps.