Useful apps

Smartphone apps to promote independence for visually impaired people

Smartphones are incredibly powerful tools and for people with nystagmus can be gateways to greater independence and a more fulfilling life. Numerous apps can transform your phone into an assistive technology device, making daily tasks easier to manage. Let’s take a look at some essential apps:

Seeing AI (Android and iOS) Seeing AI is a free and easy to navigate app that uses your phone’s camera to narrate the world around you. One of its standout features is the ability to read documents aloud instantly, making it particularly useful for people with nystagmus. Additionally, it can describe objects and people, helping you navigate unfamiliar environments with confidence.

Google Lookout (Android) Similar to Seeing AI, Lookout uses your camera to identify objects and text, offering real-time audio descriptions. It can also recognise currency denominations, helping you manage your finances independently.

Magnifier (Android and iOS) Both operating systems offer built-in magnifier apps that turn your phone’s screen into a powerful digital magnifier. Zoom in on text, labels or small objects for a clearer view. The iOS version also gives you the ability to change the contrast of text as you are viewing it through the camera. This is incredibly helpful when minimising glare and enhancing contrast on text such as cooking instructions on packaging.

Voice Memos and Recorders These built-in apps allow you to record lectures, conversations or important reminders for later playback. They are excellent for capturing information you might need to revisit, ensuring you don’t miss essential details.

Text-to-Speech (Android and iOS) With these built-in features you can listen to articles, emails or webpages read aloud. This is particularly helpful for people who experience fatigue when reading for extended periods, making content consumption more comfortable and accessible.

Avira (Android) and VoiceOver (iOS) These screen reader apps convert on-screen text into spoken language, enabling you to navigate your phone and access information independently. They provide a vital tool for people with visual impairments or reading difficulties, enhancing their ability to use technology.

Be My Eyes (Android and iOS) This unique app connects you with sighted volunteers through live video calls. Whether you need help reading a label or navigating a new environment, a volunteer can be your eyes through your phone’s camera, offering real-time assistance.

Dictation (Android and iOS) Using the microphone icon within your keyboard, you can dictate messages and have your device type them out for you. This feature is incredibly useful for people with visual impairments when navigating small and intricate keyboards on handheld devices. By speaking aloud, users can easily compose messages, emails or notes without the need for precise typing, greatly enhancing their ability to communicate efficiently.

Audible (Android and iOS) Audible is a subscription service for audiobooks, offering a wide selection of titles across different genres. Audiobooks provide access to literature and information through audio, making them a convenient option for anyone who enjoys reading books and may find it difficult to read print.