Top ten apps for students with vision impairment

Post date: 
Tuesday, 8 August 2017
Books and ipad

Daisy Goodall, blogger for AbilityNet, shares 10 great apps that students with vision impairment need to know about.

Starting university is a leap into an independent and self-reliant way of life. For students with vision impairment, some forward-thinking is essential to make sure they have the right tools to ease into this transition. The good news is that modern technology and smartphones have helped to close the gap between students with disabilities and their peers, particularly in the form of apps. Here's our selection to get you started.
(Don’t forget that any student with vision impairment in higher or further education in the UK could also be eligible for extra funding from Disabled Students’ Allowances to help make sure their education is accessible.)

1. AccessNote on iOS and Android (free)

The American Foundation for the Blind launched the official iPhone and Android notetaker, AccessNote. It works in collaboration with VoiceOver/TalkBack to create an easy-to-use and effective note-taking aid.

2. Dragon dictation apps on iOS and Android (free)

Dictate messages, adding punctuation verbally, and receive it on screen instantly. Delivery options for this message include text, email, copy-and-paste and social media apps.

3. Evernote on iOS and Android (free)

This app stores voice notes, photographs and text, providing users with a medium to share them between multiple devices. Photographs are scanned for text using VoiceOver/TalkBack support too.

4. Kindle app on iOS and Android

This free app allows users to download purchased books from Supportive features for blind and partially sighted people include large print, computer-generated speech and human narrators.

5. Audible (free 30-day trial then £7.99 per month)

This app is available on iPhone and Android devices, providing easy access to a huge selection of audio books – including academic titles.

6. Talking Scientific Calculator on iOS (£3.99)

This talking calculator has a range of voices to choose from and allows you to record your own voice. It works with VoiceOver and has high contrast options for people with low vision. Button names are also read aloud as the user’s finger moves over the screen. (There’s also a more basic Android app that’s free.)

7. Google Translate on iOS and Android (free)

Google Translate translates speech into a specified foreign language (there are over 100 to choose from). The app can also translate text in images instantly just by pointing the camera at it.

8. KNFB Reader App on iOS (£99.99) and Android (£94.99)

This app is a financial commitment, but it promises to be “fast, accurate and efficient” when converting printed text into speech. It has a field of view report, automatic page detection and tilt control. It can read aloud hardcopy text from things such as books, menus and magazines, and it also displays text in a large font on screen.

9. Alarmed – Reminders + Timers on iOS (free with paid-for extras)

Fully accessible with VoiceOver, this app is an excellent tool for staying organised. It includes a notes area with reminders, a repeating alarm feature, a snooze option and a multi-use timer (most Android devices have a similar app factory installed). An additional feature for a small cost provides you with the ability to set interval timers for doing repetitive chores, which could be used to set revision breaks.

10. And finally, an app about accessible apps

The Braille Institute has launched a free iOS app called ViA (Visually Impaired Apps), which identifies compatible apps that are useful for people with sight loss. It enables users to sift through the 500,000 plus apps in the App Store and highlights those that were built with accessible functionality.

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