8 Helpful Apps For People Who Are Blind

iPhone with headphonesBack in May 2018, I wrote a post here about transitioning from the iPhone 6 to the iPhone 8, and how important this was for someone who uses their phone for everything. It’s a new year now, and I’ve decided to go a little more in depth with my first post of 2019: I’m taking a closer look at what I use my phone for. Starting with the apps I love most, here are some apps I think are especially useful for people who are blind:

  1. Be My Eyes. This app connects a blind person to a sighted volunteer via FaceTime. When I first heard about this app, I liked the idea of having assistance at the touch of a button, but I’ve always been a little skeptical about my camera usage and accuracy. The cool thing about this app is that Voiceover will tell you what camera it is using — the front or the back — so you know how to hold the phone. You can use this app for anything you need help with, such as reading the expiration date on an item. I recently used it to get the expiration date on my vitamins. I knew someone recently who was traveling and used it to get assistance reading a sign. Whatever you need a set of eyes for, they’re there for you 24/7.
  2. Uber. We knew this would be on there because of my assistive technology journal, right? If you didn’t, that’s okay, but I knew when I thought of this blog post idea that it would be on there. As someone who travels a lot – and also as someone who doesn’t always plan when to go out, I just leave when I feel like it — this app is great. It’s also very accessible. I don’t run into issues where there are certain text fields it doesn’t read. It reads everything, and when you leave the app open as you wait for your ride, Voiceover automatically refreshes the driver’s ETA without you having to continuously check. As the driver gets closer, it automatically reads that to you.
  3. Trivia Crack. This isn’t useful for my day-to-day life, but it’s useful because sometimes I need a break from school and I want to play a game. You can play against a friend or a randomly-selected opponent, but it’s basically just 25 rounds of trivia questions. You learn a lot and it’s also rare that I see games that are accessible. (Tip: The version with no advertisements, while it costs $1.99, is much more accessible than the version with occasional ads.)
  4. Amazon. This app is much more accessible than the website. I recently started doing more online shopping for the holidays, now that I found out you can mark something as a gift and they’ll wrap it for you. But anyway, navigating the screen and selecting the item you want is no trouble at all. Entering a credit or debit card number is simple, too. It’s also just one of those apps that I didn’t have to have someone show me how to use. I could pretty much figure it out by myself.
  5. Ariadne GPS. I’ve told pretty much every blind and visually impaired person I know to purchase this app. I think the word “purchase” has made them contemplate actually doing so. I know a lot of people like free apps, but this is 10 dollars well spent. It allows you to see your precise location when you select “where am I?” It’ll give you the address, the city, state, and even tell you what county you’re in. You can select “start monitoring” so it’ll keep updating your location. It also tells you what direction you are going, and how fast you are driving in a car. It’s the most accurate GPS app I’ve ever come across….and I’ve come across a lot that don’t work.
  6. Ventra. This is a great app to use if you travel by train in the Chicago area a lot and don’t want to always carry cash with you — you can use a Ventra card instead of paying with cash. While the signing up process was a bit tedious with Voiceover (the speech synthesizer that comes with iPhones), once I got my account set up, it was great. One of my favorite features to use is “transit tracker,” that allows you to see how far away your train is. It also allows you to add a certain train to “favorites,” so if you’re like me and you typically like to take the same train at the same time, it comes in handy.
  7. Read 2 Go. This app is associated with bookshare.org and costs 20 dollars, but again, it’s money well spent. I put this on the list not for its accessibility, but for what they offer. They pretty much have any book you could possibly want to read. It’s free if you are a student. If you aren’t, it’s 50 dollars a year. That sounds like a lot, but I think that’s worth it for all the audio books you could ever want.
  8. Google Maps. I know, you wouldn’t think this would be as accessible as it is, since maps are pretty visual, but you’d be surprised. This is last on the list because I don’t use it too often. I used it more back when I used cabs and wanted to calculate the fare based on distance and time, so I use it a little less since I don’t typically use cabs anymore, but it comes in handy. I still use it when I’m planning trips, or when someone is picking me up and I know where they’re coming from so I can have an idea of how long it’ll take them to get here. It’s another one of those apps you can pretty much figure out yourself.

Have any apps you especially like? Leave a comment and let me know. I might give it a try!


 

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  1. Brad Dunsé Says:

    Voice Dream reads all BookShare Books plus plays MP3s, reads MS Word docs, html files, pdfs, epub books really almost any file. Seein AI is a free app which does color ID, light detector, reads handwriting, UPC ID, scans OCR of documents, does a short life scan, identifies money, plus more. Blind Square is well worth the small investment as well for GPS feedback. Weather Office is very accurate and accessible. FlickType keyboard for iPhones is a huge time saver for typing on iPhones. If you are a musician or know of one Talking Tuner is a must. Gives you audible feedback down to the cents flat or sharp.


  2. Juanita Says:

    I like Seeing AI for going through my snail mail at a glance. Using the short text feature, I can know what to keep and what to chuck.


  3. J. Hallahan Says:

    Great list! I have given up on Read 2 Go, particularly when the app crashed in late 2017/early 2018 and appeared to be discontinued. I guess it hasn’t, but nonetheless, Voice Dream Reader and Dolphin EasyReader are much better, as far as Bookshare apps go. Dolphin is also free!


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