The number of apps for the visually and hearing impaired has proliferated recognizably over the past year and continues to grow. In fact, even Apple’s App Store has a “Special Education” section, which contains apps for the disabled. Also a new law signed in 2010 makes it so that support technologies are now a legal requirement.
Check out the following noteworthy smartphone apps:
Intersection Explorer by Google
Intersection Explorer tells the user the layout of the streets in a neighborhood as the user touches and drags his or her finger around the map. This app helps visually-impaired and blind users to understand the layout of an area before they venture out into it. It can be used in conjunction with “walking directions” and “places” in GoogleMaps and with WalkyTalky from the Eyes-Free project.
This Android app helps the deaf communicate with the hearing. It works by starting a video call with a sign-language interpreter, who then relays messages verbally to the recipient in real-time. It’s compatible with Sprint’s HTC Evo and includes extra features, such as e911 and SignMail. (Enhanced 911 provides an interpreter to mediate for emergency services while SignMail provides an interpreter when a hearing impaired person misses a call.)
This Apple feature in iOS 5 allows people with motor skill disabilities to perform multitouch gestures with just one finger. When this feature is turned on, a white circle appears at the bottom of the screen and stays there. When tapped, a floating palette appears on-screen. Its buttons trigger motions and gestures on the iPhone screen without requiring multi-finger movement.
This app, which is compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad, helps individuals with communicative disabilities communicate by providing six tiles that represent a person’s most basic needs. Other communication tiles can be built, there is a built-in text-to-speech engine, and one can also record his or her voice to be used in the app.
This app, being developed by Nokia, would allow a disabled person to select someone from their contact list and call that person using only their mind. The app is designed for Nokia’s N900 Maemo platform and works in conjunction with Bluetooth technology and a headset that measures the user’s brainwaves. If the user’s attention level is over 70 percent, the contact list scrolls to the next person in the list, if it drops below 30 percent, it scrolls back to the previous contact, and if the user’s level surpasses 80 percent, the list stops scrolling and the software calls that person.