Some assistive technologies can be very expensive and difficult to acquire. Many others, however, are so accessible that all it takes is a quick download on your smartphone.
Enabling a better quality of life for PWDs doesn’t necessarily require uncommon, sophisticated hardware. Here are some software applications from around the world that can achieve exactly that without the fuss:
Stay in touch, even without touch. The Open Sesame app is designed with that idea in mind, and as a result is hands-free, touch-free software that allows you to operate your smartphone through head movements.
Open Sesame is incredibly user-friendly for those with more severe physical limitations. This includes people with paralysis or impairments in their upper extremities.
Other features include voice commands across multiple languages, and the option to snap photos from the main camera while tracking.
Designed for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, this mobile app makes it much easier to navigate conversations during real-life social situations.
The app will make your smartphone connect to other devices within your social group. It will then use speech recognition and speaker identification technologies to figure out who exactly is speaking.
These conversations are then translated by the app into text, with different coloured speech bubbles depending on who is speaking.
It’s definitely a game changer to avoid being unintentionally isolated during social events.
Be My Eyes
This is a Danish mobile app for people with blindness or low vision.
It is a very community-driven platform. Individuals that require visual support can send images or videos to sighted volunteers through the app, and these volunteers can then assist with identification through live chats.
If you’re worried that the support is unreliable because it’s not automated, don’t be. Be My Eyes has over 6.5 million sighted volunteers, so you’re quite likely to get someone to literally be your eyes at almost anytime you want.
The Perfect Keyboard app is meant for people with limited dexterity or low vision, or both.
It overhauls your smartphone’s keyboard layout, allowing you to tweak pretty much anything for ease of typing.
You can increase your key height, text size and the space between rows, among other options. This not only makes the keyboard easier to perceive, it also lowers the chance of you accidentally pressing multiple keys at once.
All the above options are available for free, though you could upgrade to the premium version if you’d like enhanced colours for better visual distinction, or gestures for greater freedom of expression.
Agus (2022) Five Assistive Tech for People With Disabilities [Accessed 22 July 2023] Available at: https://www.hongkiat.com/blog/assistive-apps-gadgets/
Access 2 mobility (2023) Top 8 Mobile Apps for Persons with Disabilities [Accessed 26 July 2023] Available at: https://access2mobility.com/top-8-mobile-apps-for-persons-with-disabilities/