Assistive Technology Apps for iOS
All iPhone® apps must be downloaded directly from the Apple® iTunes® store. Most are relatively inexpensive, and many are completely free. Other smart phones also have their own proprietary apps, so it is important that the phone's owner downloads the right ones for the phone.
A few additional apps that are also helpful to individuals with blindness and visual disabilities: The LookTel Money Reader recognizes U.S. currency and speaks the denomination out loud, enabling people who are blind or visually impaired to identify and count bills. Google-driven applications WalkyTalky and Intersection Explorer help people with visual impairments navigate unfamiliar streets and communities. Both apps sync with Google Maps to deliver directions in spoken instructions based on the user’s location.
Apps like Color ID and Color Identifier use the smartphone’s camera to identify colors, enabling people with visual impairments to coordinate their wardrobes and interpret the limited light and images they may be able to see
BrainLine is a “national multimedia project offering information and resources about preventing, treating, and living with TBI. BrainLine includes a series of webcasts, an electronic newsletter, and an extensive outreach campaign in partnership with national organizations concerned about traumatic brain injury.”
The BrainLine team sifted through many resources to collect this list of iPhone, iTouch, and iPad apps that could be useful to people with a brain injury — and their families and caregivers.
The Assistive Technology Act Program of Alaska recently listed 10 useful iPhone apps for individuals with deafness and hearing disabilities.
As a smartphone with an enormous library of applications, a number exist to better facilitate communication and make it possible to place and receive audio and/or video calls, among other things. As such, below are ten apps to enhance one's iPhone experience:
IP-Relay: Like TTY or TDD systems, IP-Relay allows you to make phone calls. It connects you to an operator who then reads your messages to the recipient and transcribes their messages back to you. It interfaces with your iPhone's existing contacts, and restores the crucial function of being able to make phone calls.
Hamilton Mobile Captel: Hamilton Mobile Captel transcribes phone calls, as they happen, in English or in Spanish. Using a headset, Captel allows you to see the text of a phone call in real-time while hearing it, making it much easier to understand conversations.
IWRelay VRS: IWRelay is a video relay application that, unlike others, allows users to make video relay service calls via FaceTime, iPhone 4's new video conferencing feature. While other apps have promised this feature, no others offer it yet, making this app particularly valuable for early adopters.
Sorenson Video Center: The Sorenson Video Center allows users of Sorenson Video Relay Service to take videos from a videophone and view them on an iPhone or an iPod Touch. It connects to one's Sorenson account, which it uses to access videos, IP Relay services, and provide easy ways to respond to SignMail videos. It also interfaces with the iPhone's contacts system and many instant messaging services.
iASL: iASL is a comprehensive American Sign Language application. It includes a video dictionary, translators, automatic spelling correction, and a number of resources for study. At 403 megabytes, it's a large application, but as an ASL teaching resource, it's highly valuable. Given its large quantity of video content, it's one application that could be better on the iPad's huge screen.
Subtitles: Subtitles provides access to movie subtitles to use in real-time when watching movies on other devices, making it easier to follow dialogue when seeing films in theaters or in other settings. Note that the application's content is user-generated, so the quality of subtitles may vary.
Tap Tap: Tap Tap is designed to produce alerts when loud noises are made around the phone. With Tap Tap on, the iPhone will vibrate and flash to alert you that there's been a loud noise or that someone has spoken in your direction. It could provide hugely useful information -- that someone is knocking on your door, that an intercom has gone off, that you are being addressed -- might otherwise go unnoticed.
fring: a multi-function messaging application that makes it possible to make free calls, both voice and video, as well as live IM chats from an iPhone or iPod touch over either a WiFi connection or a 3G one. It interfaces to many services, like MSN Messenger, Google Talk, Twitter, and AOL Instant Messenger, and for consolidating all of these into a single application, it could be quite useful.
soundAMP: SoundAMP uses the iPhone's microphone to amplify sound around the user, turning it into a hearing aid. It allows the user to adjust frequencies to best compensate for hearing loss, captures the last 30 seconds in the event that the user needs to replay them, and allows for enhanced recordings of things like doctors' appointments and lectures.
DeafNation: A reader for content from DeafNation, a news site covering entertainment, sports, and language. Their dedicated application provides feeds for news and the site's Twitter, videos, and additional content. Note that some users have complained about the app's news feed compared to the web sites.
A recent New York Times article provided resources for “Finding Good Apps for Children With Autism.”
The article states:
“The Apple iPad has been hailed as a savior for assisting children with autism spectrum disorder or other special needs. It was portrayed as a minor miracle in a recent segment on “60 Minutes” and has been found to help even the very young quickly learn.
Anecdotally, teachers, parents and therapists describe the profound difference that apps for Apple and Android products have made in helping autistic children develop skills. IPad programs have provided a means of communicating for some children with autism who cannot speak or have language delays. Other apps help children learn to handle social situations that can be stressful, like crowds at malls. And many programs can help develop fine-motor skills, which promote functions like writing or manipulating small objects.”
The article references a spreadsheet of reviews and recommendations of iPad apps for individuals with autism including SNapps4kids.com;
Proloquo2Go Highly recommended for kids and adults with autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, developmental disabilities, apraxia, ALS, stroke or traumatic brain injury, this app-turned-AAC device utilizes colorful stick-figure illustrations and features an up-to-date vocabulary, text-to-speech voices and automatic conjugations.
Grace This innovative app allows special-needs children to communicate through complete sentences by linking together colorful images and symbols in this fully customizable application.
iCommunicate Create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, visual schedules and record custom audio in any language with this versatile program; incorporates pictures from your camera or Google images. Helps to teach social skills for children with autism.
First Then Visual Schedule Ease transitioning for children with developmental delays such as Autism Spectrum Disorders by introducing this easy-to-customize scheduler into your special-needs curriculum.
iConverse An inexpensive program designed for iPhone and iPod touch, this app functions as a picture exchange communication system (PECS) for autistic children and autistic adults alike, as well as others with communicative disabilities.
AutismExpress This free app displays basic facial expressions in a way which is comical and instructional; excellent for children who have difficulty understanding emotions.
stories2learn Illustrate your own social stories for children with autism, using pictures, text and audio with this customizable program geared towards enriching the curricula of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
MyTalk Mobile The MyTalk Mobile is an AAC device for iPad, iPhone and iPod touch; it also boasts the “My Talk Workspace,” which saves all info on a backup file in case of device crashing.
TapToTalk Make your own AAC albums with this app, currently including a library of 2,000 pics. Children can tap on each image to hear fun audio.
iComm Children who have cerebral palsy or autism will appreciate this fundamental communication system; iComm is an affordable alternative to many of the pricier communication devices.