Apps to support people with visual impairment

INTRODUCTION

The below list of apps is not an endorsement of any product or service.

We have researched nationally and internationally online sources for apps for people with vision impairment and used recommendations from these sources as well as our experience to compile this resource. All the sources are listed below. We have included only those that are available in the Irish apple app store as of 7th May 2020(with the exception of Soundscape). Where available Android and windows versions are listed at the end of each app description.

The document is accessible to screen readers, please use your screen reader shortcut for Headings List (JAWS Insert + F6). We have included pictures of the apps for low vision users, parents and teachers to recognise each app in the app store.

If you would like add your feedback on an app, please email me, at conor.hartigan@ul.ie I would be happy to update this list based on your recommendations or feedback.

If you feel there is a category missing please contact us.

Finally, if you think this is of benefit to students with visual impairments in Ireland please send me your feedback, @conorhart81 or email conor.hartigan@ul.ie

SEEING AI

Microsoft SEEING AI app logo

This is the number one app for anyone with a visual impairment using an iOS device. It is an excellent app Microsoft’s Seeing AI, unfortunately, it’s currently iOS only. This is an amazing app, offered absolutely free.

Seeing AI can recognize and speak text detected by the smartphone camera, either in tiny snatches or full pages at a time. It can read bar codes on grocery and other product labels, offer up the product name, and usually additional information, such as nutrition labelling, cooking and other instructions.

Using Seeing AI you can snap pictures of your friends and family members, and later use the app to tell you who’s nearby. An experimental setting can describe the scene around you, such as “A fenced-in yard,” or “A blue door on an apartment building.” You can also forward images you receive in email, or find on Facebook or Twitter, and Seeing AI will do its best to describe the action and read any text contained in the image.

Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.

Optimized for use with VoiceOver, the app enables you to recognize:

  • Short Text – Speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
  • Documents – Provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
  • Products – Scans barcodes, using audio beeps to guide you; hear the name, and package information when available. (works with iPhone 6 and later)
  • People – Saves people’s faces so you can recognize them, and get an estimate of their age, gender, and emotions.
  • Scenes (early preview) – Hear an overall description of the scene captured.
  • Currency – Recognizes currency notes. (Requires iOS 11)
  • Colour – Identifies colour.
  • Handwriting – Reads handwritten text like in greeting cards
  • Light – Generates an audible tone corresponding to the brightness in the surroundings.
  • Images in other apps – Just tap “Share” and “Recognize with Seeing AI” to describe images from Mail, Photos, Twitter, and more.
  • Photo browsing experience – Describes photos on your phone

Seeing AI is built to help you achieve more by leveraging the power of the cloud and artificial intelligence. As the research progresses, more channels may be added.

Check out tutorials with this YouTube playlist:

YouTube Seeing AI Playlist

Seeing AI Introduction Video

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS

Website SeeingAI.comfor more details

EDUCATIONAL APPS

Socratic

Socratic app to help with learning

“One of the tools that helps me to learn more about several subjects is the Socratic app, which has become my best friend as I learn more about different topics that I don’t remember or never learned prior to taking some of my college classes. “

Need to get unstuck? Socratic can help! This learning app, powered by Google AI, helps you understand your schoolwork at a high school and university level. Ask Socratic a question and the app will find the best online resources for you to learn the concepts. Socratic supports most high school subjects, with more coming soon!

KEY FEATURES

  • HELPFUL RESULTS
    • Use your voice or camera to connect to online resources and understand any problem.
  • EVERYTHING YOU NEED IN ONE PLACE
    • Find videos, step-by-step explanations, and more to learn subjects at your own pace.
  • EXPERT-CREATED STUDY GUIDES
    • Socratic partnered with teachers and experts to bring you visual explanations in each subject, so you can learn the concepts behind any problem.
  • WORKS FOR ALL YOUR SUBJECTS
    • Currently includes Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Calculus, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Earth and Environmental Science, US and World History, and Literature. More to come!

Socratic app supports accessibility for large print and screen magnification review.

The Socratic app supports Dynamic Text, though there are times when some headings or text is cut off due to the large text size, though this does not affect the usability of the app. All explanations are in large print, however, some equations are not enlarged since they are written in a different font than the text-based explanations. Luckily, these can easily be magnified with the Zoom lens view, along with other graphics, and if needed users can take a screenshot and zoom in to get a better view of the equations.

Socratic app accessibility for screen readers review.

I was impressed with the Socratic app accessibility for VoiceOver, as I was able to easily run voice searches and text-based searches and get results in a format that could easily be read by VoiceOver. While the Socratic app does not support alt text for images within its Explainers content, the text captions provide more than enough context for explanations, so users aren’t missing out on critical information. Equations are read out loud as well, but for some reason, it didn’t recognize a negative sign in an equation written in an Explainers explanation. However, I was able to figure out based on the rest of the text where the negative sign was supposed to go, and could easily find that information within other sources in the app.

perkinselearning.org socratic app accessibility review

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: https://socratic.org/

Accessible flash cards

Accessible flash cards to assist learning

Study and improve your knowledge using Accessible Flash Cards.

A flash card is a card containing information usually on both sides, following the question-and-answer format or term-and-definition. They serve as a learning tool when we want to learn something or go over any topics or subjects of our interest. They may include texts, images or a combination of both on either side and their main purpose is knowledge acquisition memorizing their content by training sessions.

Write the term on the front of the card and write the definition on the back.

Create your own collections of flash cards covering topics in language, chemistry, spelling, geography or anything that you want to study or go over.

There are 25 voice languages for cards.

Create your daily or weekly training session choosing how many cards you want to use in the session and the method to move between cards: 

  • Fast: Read the term, then read the definition and finally go to the next card.
  • Normal: Read the term, read and spell the definition and go to the next card.
  • Slow: Read the term, read and spell the definition, read the term and the definition again and finally go to the next card.
  • Inverted fast: Read the definition, then read the term and finally go to the next card.
  • Inverted normal: Read and spell the definition, read the term and go to the next card.
  • Inverted slow: Read and spell the definition, read the term, read the definition and term again and finally go to the next card.
  • Manual: Manage the session using the toolbar to turn, spell, speak and go to next card.


Export your collections via e-Mail to share them among your devices or your friends.

Warning! This app does not include any collection by default. You must create your own collections or ask friends for sharing them.

  • This application is compatible with VOICEOVER for iOS.
  • This application is compatible with ZOOM for iOS.
  • Spanish and English languages supported.

Cost: €2.29

Available on: iOS

Website: https://www.tyflosaccessiblesoftware.com/projects.php  

Pocket Recorder

Pocket Recorder accessible recorder

An accessible recorder with you wherever you go! Pocket Recorder has been created with speed and ease of use in mind. Many applications can be very difficult to navigate for Visually Impaired users, but Pocket Recorder’s menus are very comprehensive, and graphics have been minimalized to ensure swift navigation for users with screen reading. We have designed this application to be fully accessible with Voiceover so users can also benefit from using any Voiceover compatible braille display. Use of a Braille display enhances navigation and allows quick naming of files. We highly recommend using the application with a good pair of headphones to prevent any Voiceover speech from being recorded and to remain incognito in whatever environment you find yourself in. Link your Dropbox account to automatically upload recordings to your other devices!

We hope you find Pocket Recorder to be a useful and effective tool for capturing those moments you need to remember!

Cost: €6.99

Available on: iOS

Khan Academy

 Khan Academy learning tool

You can learn anything. For free.

Spend an afternoon brushing up on statistics. Discover how the Krebs cycle works. Learn about the fundamentals of music notation. Get a head start on next semester’s geometry fundamentals. Prepare for the SAT, GMAT, LSAT, MCAT, NCLEX-RN, and AP exams. Or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, learn how fire-stick farming changes the landscape of Australia.

Whether you’re a student, teacher, home schooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien trying to get a leg up in earthly biology — Khan Academy’s learning library is available to you, for free.

Learn anything, for free: Thousands of interactive exercises, videos, and articles at your fingertips. Study math, science, economics, finance, grammar, history, government, politics, and much, much more.

Sharpen your skills: Practice exercises, quizzes, and tests with instant feedback and step-by-step hints. Follow along with what you’re learning in school, or practice at your own pace.

Keep learning when you’re offline: Bookmark and download your favourite content to watch videos without an internet connection.

Pick up where you left off: Your learning syncs with khanacademy.org, so your progress is always up to date.

Learn using videos, interactive exercises, and in-depth articles in math (arithmetic, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, statistics, calculus, linear algebra), science (biology, chemistry, physics), economics (microeconomics, macroeconomics), humanities (art history, civics, finance, US history, US government and politics, world history), and more (including computer science principles)!

Khan Academy is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, with the mission of providing a free, world-class education for anyone, anywhere. Watch all our 3,500 videos

Cost: Free

Available on:

Website: www.khanacademy.org     

Kahn Academy kids

Kahn Academy kids learning tool

Children can learn reading, language, writing, math, social-emotional development, problem-solving skills, and motor development. Open-ended activities and games like drawing, storytelling, and colouring encourage creativity and self-expression. A cast of adorable animal characters will guide children through lessons, and our adaptive learning path will customize their experience to help them master different skills.

Khan Academy Kids is completely free, forever — no ads and no subscriptions necessary. And we’re always adding new content to keep kids engaged, including books and songs from Super Simple Songs®, Bellwether Media, and National Geographic Young Explorer Magazine.

NEW TEACHER TOOLS that can support remote learning

  • Set up your class easily
  • Search lessons by standards
  • Assign lessons
  • View reports to monitor student progress

Note: accessibility statement on website – Kahn academy kids to be tested for accessibility

How does Khan Academy make our content more accessible    

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: https://www.khanacademy.org    

Smiley Sight Words

Smiley Sight Words learning tool

Smiley Sight Words teaches high-frequency sight words to your child! The 1,600+ sight words included with Smiley Sight Words comprises up to 85% of the text in a child’s early reading materials. A child who can recognize just 8 of 10 words in a sentence can typically understand its meaning! “Sight words” often cannot be illustrated via simple pictures or sounded out according to regular phonetic decoding rules, thus they need to be learned and recognized “on sight”. Smiley Sight Words is a handy way to keep track of and encourage a child’s mastery of their sight words

Smiley Sight Words teaches high-frequency sight words to your child!

The 1,600+ sight words included with Smiley Sight Words comprises up to 85% of the text in a child’s early reading materials. A child who can recognize just 8 of 10 words in a sentence can typically understand its meaning! “Sight words” often cannot be illustrated via simple pictures or sounded out according to regular phonetic decoding rules, thus they need to be learned and recognized “on sight”. Smiley Sight Words is a handy way to keep track of and encourage a child’s mastery of their sight words.

FEATURES:

  • Optimized for iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch.
  • Over 1,600 common sight words comprehensively compiled from Dolch, Fry, Pinnell-Fountas, UK, and many other high-frequency word lists.
  • Beautifully recorded American-English pronunciations for all words
  • Top 1000 – 40 levels sorted by frequency
  • Dolch 300 – 7 levels (pre-primer, primer, grade 1-3, nouns 1-2)
  • Dolch 300 – 11 levels sorted by frequency
  • Fry 1000 – 10 levels sorted by frequency
  • UK 1000 – 10 levels sorted by frequency
  • AU Rainbow – 12 levels sorted by color-code.
  • More Words – Upper and lower-case alphabet, numbers 0-100, colours, shapes, animals, months, days of week, family words, common nouns
  • Words organized by number of letters
  • 10 Customizable Flash Card sets
  • 10 Shared Customizable Flash Card sets common to all 5 players
  • Copy and Paste words from sets or emails
  • Email export of word lists
  • Show and Hide individual words
  • Mark flash cards with smileys – try to earn 3 thumbs-up smileys for each word.
  • Flash cards respond to swipes, shakes, and taps
  • Customizable settings for up to 40 players
  • Player names and photos can be customized
  • Progress Report can be saved to Photo Library
  • D’Nealian, Zaner-Bloser, Times, Helvetica, Marker Felt, Chalkboard, and Noteworthy fonts
  • In-app Help documentation
  • The app is totally accessible with voiceover and is low vision friendly too!

Applevis.com review    

Cost: €1.09

Available on: iOS

Story Dice – ideas for writers

Story Dice - ideas for writers creative tool

Story Dice is a creative tool to prompt ideas for plot, character, and setting. This idea generator can be used effectively for both written and oral storytelling.

This app can be used with a wide variety of age groups ranging from pre-schoolers to teenagers. The user interface is simple enough for ages 3+ to use without any additional instruction. The use of the app does not require reading, so it is an ideal tool for using in a preschool story circle (see lesson plans) as well as a general writing prompt for all ages without reading or native language barriers.

Features:

  • Universal App!
  • High-resolution graphics supporting Retina Display
  • Choose number of dice to roll, 1-10.
  • Realistic dice sounds and still images.
  • 140 pictograms in dictionary.
  • No reading necessary.
  • Optional game instructions included in app.

Cost: €2.29

Available on: iOS

Website: https://thinkamingo.com/

TED

TED talks

Feed your curiosity and expand your world with TED Talks. Explore more than 2,000 free videos and learn from the world’s most remarkable people. Search by any mood or topic, from tech and science to the surprises of your own psychology. 

Get personalized recommendations that match your unique interests, or browse TED’s library of thousands of inspiring, informative, transformational videos for free.

Features on iPhone, iPad and iPod touch:

  • Sign in to get personalized recommendations and sync videos across all your devices
  • Watch videos with subtitles in over 100 languages
  • Check out the newest and trending videos, browse by topic, or select from our curators’ picks
  • Stream videos to your Apple TV with Airplay
  • Download videos to watch offline
  • Add talks your list to watch later
  • Toggle between dark mode or light modes
  • Get instant inspiration with the “Surprise Me!” feature
  • Get the TED app to stay curious, informed and inspired.

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: https://www.ted.com/

Accessibility Statement: how were making the ted iOS app more accessible for all

Flip-Over Faces

Flip-Over Faces to explore facial expressions

The Flip-Over Faces app is where a child can casually explore facial expressions within a fun and versatile context.

You can generate hundreds of facial expressions by changing eyebrow position, eye direction, and mouth type. In addition, multiple hair styles and eyewear options are available.

This interactive app is specially designed for students with low vision and a cognitive level of 5 years of age or older. Students with additional disabilities, such as autism and language delays, may also benefit from this app. Sighted students and adults are invited to enjoy the app as well.

What’s New

Jan 8, 2020 Version 1.2 now when VoiceOver is on, double tap to change face Android or iOS.

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: American Printing House for the Blind (APH)

Duolingo

Duolingo for vocabulary building

A game primarily useful for vocabulary-building and sentence-structure, Duolingo is a fully accessible iPhone App, featuring exercises in listening, speaking, and writing, that will help you with your vocabulary building and grammar. It works like a role-playing game, since your avatar/character can level up, and gain virtual currency which you can then spend on virtual accessories for your avatar, or language-learning power-ups. It is free on the app store.

Want to learn a new language? It’s now fun, entertaining, and efficient to learn, right on your phone!

Trust Duolingo like 300 million other language learners and find a program that works. The secret? Duolingo feels like a game and makes sure you stay motivated. Take 10 minutes a day, and you’ll surprise yourself with how well you can speak a new language 3 months from now!

Forget everything you knew about language learning. With Duolingo, you’ll practice with fun lessons that will leave you eager to learn more, and develop reading, writing, speaking, listening and conversation skills along the way! Track your progress, earn rewards, and most importantly: join the world’s largest community of language learners.

Over 30 languages to choose from – all completely free with our free version, which gives you access to all learning content!

Cost: Free – Offers In-App Purchases

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: https://www.duolingo.com/

Word Reference

Word Reference dictionary translator

An essential dictionary/translator for anyone interested in languages. The app features translations from English to Spanish, French, German, and Italian, is fully accessible, and free on the app store.

100% free application.

The app of the world’s most popular and powerful dictionary translation website. It grants you quick access to our extensive dictionaries and forum discussions.

WordReference.com’s dictionaries:

  • English to Spanish
  • English to French
  • English to Italian
  • English to German
  • English to Portuguese
  • English to Polish
  • English to Romanian
  • English to Czech
  • English to Greek
  • English to Turkish
  • English to Japanese
  • English to Chinese
  • English to Korean
  • English to Arabic
  • English to Swedish
  • English to Dutch
  • Spanish to French
  • Spanish to Portuguese
  • English definitions
  • Spanish definitions
  • Italian definitions

Conjugators:

  • Spanish conjugator
  • French conjugator
  • Italian conjugator

Synonyms: English and Spanish

Forums contain over 3 million questions and answers about English and translation. Your questions have already been answered!

NOTE: Requires internet access.

Cost: Free

Available on: iOS & Android

Website: wordreference.com

Pictello

Pictello app for a child with autism

Everyone loves to tell fun, engaging, and imaginative stories. Go ahead and make a social story or visual schedule for a child with autism or a slide show of holiday pictures for your friends – Pictello makes it a breeze to create and share! Whether you use the included natural-sounding Text to Speech voices, or record your own voice, Pictello is the perfect tool for visual storytelling.

Each page in a Pictello story consists of a photo or video and some text, which can be read aloud by a Text to Speech voice or your own recorded audio.

  • Develop literacy skills
    • Support reading with word-by-word text highlighting
    • Develop writing and spelling with built-in word prediction and Speak as You Type
  • Create stories to teach academic and social skills
    • Import free early literacy and adapted academic books from Tar Heel Reader
    • Create and playback with ease
    • Let students use the wizard to create stories
    • Play stories page by page or as a slideshow
    • Use Text to Speech voices to read the story
    • Turn on switch access for story playback
  • Integrate multimedia
    • Add your own photos
    • Include short video clips
    • Record your own voice or sound
    • Share your stories
    • Share with other Pictello users through our free sharing server
    • Use Dropbox to exchange stories
    • Export to PDF or print to share with non-Pictello users
  • Speak your language
    • Pick English, Spanish, German, French, Italian or Dutch for the user interface
    • Select from over 110 free Text to Speech voices in 29 languages
    • Use genuine American, British, Australian, American Spanish, Swedish, French, Italian, German, Norwegian and Swedish children’s voices
    • Create interest with fun character and specialty voices
  • Customize to fit your needs
    • Pick between Wizard or Expert creation modes
    • Swipe or automatically turn pages
    • Adjust speech rate and pronunciations

Cost: €20.99

Available on:

Website: www.assistiveware.com/products/pictello

iTalk Recorder 

iTalk Recorder recording app

A full-featured recording app with a streamlined and intuitive user interface. Press the big red button to record; press it again to stop. You can append to existing recordings, choose from three levels of recording quality and manage your recordings, all with just a fingertip.

iTalk Recorder is a full-featured recording app with a streamlined and intuitive user interface. Press the big red button to record; press it again to stop. You can append to existing recordings, choose from three levels of recording quality (11.025, 22.05, or 44.10 kHz sample rates), and manage your recordings, all with just a fingertip.

You can email recordings straight from iTalk. iTalk also supports direct file sharing through iTunes.

Whether you’re recording minutes of a meeting, a lecture, or the sounds of birds singing in a meadow far from any electrical outlets, iTalk Recorder puts the sound quality you need in the palm of your hand.

Features

  • High-quality handheld recording
  • Easy, convenient user interface and controls
  • Email your recordings directly from iTalk
  • Supports iTunes File Sharing
  • Auto-noise cancellation (on iPhone 4)
  • Built-in search function to locate recordings by title
  • User-selectable Good, Better, Best sound quality (11.025, 22.05, or 44.10 kHz sample rates)

Cost: Free – Offers in App purchase

Available on: iOS
Website: Griffintechnology.com

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