iPhone & iPad Apps for the Blind &VisuallyImpaired

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Assistive technology is any kind of technology and/or tool that can be used to enhance the functional independence of a person with a disability.

Apple just keeps making it better for those who are blind or visually impaired. iOS 8 comes with more features to make it easier for people with low vision or no vision to get the most from their iOS devices. Following you will find misc. information about using the iDevices as assistive technology. I hope you find this guide helpful as you take this journey into the iWorld. Please note: There are new apps coming out every day. This is not a complete guide but more of a jumping off point.

Built-in Accessibility/Functions to explore:
Built-in accessibility features and the development of thousands of specialized apps have made Apple’s iPhone extremely popular among persons with disabilities. Assignable ringtones create an audible caller ID for the blind;  This section explores the IOS accessibility features, including VoiceOver and Zoom, and reviews blind or low vision-specific apps.

There are many built-in features on iDevices that accommodate those with low vision or no vision and help improve productivity. The iPhone and the iPad have some differences here so it is important that you get the tools that best fits your needs. Apple provides a section just on accessibility option worth exploring but also check out the details of many of those built-in accessibility options in the iOS Technology.

Here are the functions we will be covering.
Guided Access,VoiceOver,VoiceOver with Zoom,Zoom,VoiceOver with Maps,Text Completion,Siri,Siri’s ability to launch apps,White-on-Black,Hands Free,Alternate alerts,Custom vibration patterns for alerts
Word highlights in speak selection.

You can find these functions in accessibility. 


VoiceOver, the screen reader for blind and low-vision users, is now integrated with Maps, AssistiveTouch, and Zoom.VoiceOver is a revolutionary screen reader that lets you know what’s happening on your Multi-Touch screen — and helps you navigate it — even if you can’t see it. Touch the screen to hear what’s under your finger, then use gestures to control your device. VoiceOver works with the apps that come with your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch. 


Siri, Apple’s intelligent assistant, helps you do the things you do every day.1 All you have to do is ask. Say something like “Tell Jay I’m running late” or “Remind me to make reservations for Saturday.” Siri can send messages, place phone calls, schedule meetings, and even turn on and off VoiceOver, Guided Access and Invert Colors. And because Siri is integrated with VoiceOver, you can ask where the nearest sushi restaurant is and hear the answer read out loud.

Speak Selection

If you have a hard time reading the text on your iOS device, use Speak Selection to read your email, iMessages, web pages, and books to you. Highlight text in any application, tap Speak, and Speak Selection reads the selected text aloud. You can adjust the voice’s dialect and speaking rate, and have words highlighted as they’re being read.


Dictation lets you talk where you would type. Tap the microphone button on the keyboard, say what you want to write, and your iOS device converts your words (and numbers and characters) into text. So it’s easy to type an email, note, or URL — without typing at all.


Zoom is a built-in magnifier that works wherever you are in iOS, from Mail and Safari to the Home and Lock screens. And it works with all apps from the App Store. A simpledouble-tap with three fingers instantly zooms in 200 percent, and you can adjust the magnification between 100 and 500 percent. While you’re zoomed in, you can still use all of the familiar gestures to navigate your device. And Zoom works with VoiceOver, so you can bettersee — and hear — what’s happening on your screen.

Font Adjustments

When you activate Larger Dynamic Type, the text inside Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Messages, Notes, and even some third party apps, is converted to a larger, easier-to-read size. And you can choose bold text to make the text heavier across a range of built-in applications.

Invert Colors and Grayscale

If a higher contrast helps you better see what’s on your display, iOS lets you invert the colors onscreen. Once you set your colors, the settings apply systemwide, even to video, so you get the same view no matter what you’re seeing.
Braille Displays for iOS  It’s easy to use a braille display with your iOS device. More than 40 Bluetooth wireless braille displays work right out of the box with iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch. And iOS includes braille tables for multiple languages. Learn more about iOS braille displays         

Apps for Visually Impaired:
 It is always good to do a little research on an app before purchasing it. Do a search and see if you can find some reviews or talk to others to see if they have tried it. This could save you a lot of money as some apps are just not appropriate or what you might be hoping for. Watching YouTube videos of the app in action i always worth while. 
explored and found, what I feel to be, a couple of great resources for apps for the Visually Impaired:

Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired -  highlights some of the most innovative apps available.
Gradients of Sight has provided a listing and review of each.
 Magnification and Vision Support listing by Spectronics.com is also a good guide.
spectronics.com has a listing of apps for people who have low vision, and teachers of students who have a vision impairment.
 iPhone iPad apps for the blind and visually impaired blog highlights some of the most innovative and entertaining apps available to the vision impaired.

Not assistive technology but may be worth exploring is: Apps that can aid in Visual Skills
Voice Dream Reader app  provides text-to-speech that lets you listen to any articles, blog posts, reports, papers, and books. It reads the text using the best available text-to-speech technology. You can add it to your Book share account easily. VDR allows for many color options, the Text-To-Speech can be set for wpm, and I think you will like the reading screen feature. 
ViA is a new app from Braille Institute that fills a real need for families with children with visual impairments... it helps you find apps that are accessible and appropriate for blind users! 

Please note that many of the apps in this section would not be considered LV but more instructional.
App Writer US  is an app which is a text editor for the iPad with word prediction, text-to-speech, OCR, and a special font for people who are Dyslexic.
PaperPort allows you to import pictures, documents, items from dropbox, etc. and then either type, write or use speech recognition into text boxes. A digital note taking tool, allowing the user to combine documents, web content, audio, typed text, and handwritten notes into a single document that can be shared.
SoundNote is an iPad alternative to smart pens like LiveScribe, but without the need to purchase a special pen. (It is specific to the iPad and is not available on the iPhone.) It allows you to record audio while you hand write notes with your finger, stylus, or keyboard to take notes during classes, conferences, meetings, etc. When you are finished, simply go to the section of your notes that you want to review and you are immediately taken to that section of the audio as well. 
Voice Dream Reader app  provides text-to-speech that lets you listen to any articles, blog posts, reports, papers, and books. It reads the text using the best available text-to-speech technology. 

Reading Supports to research:
There's a lot reading supports available from resources such as-
iBooks (come with iDevices)
iBooks for Textbooks (This will be big!)
Learning Ally
Talking Books from the National Library Service
Apps that offer highlighting while speaking the text:  Speak It. A great reading app called Voice Dream Reader can be used with Pocket (or Instapaper). With a webpage, save it to pocket then open Voice Dream Reader which imports all webpages saved in Pocket. Voice Dream Reader ighlights the line which is being read aloud. VVoice Dream Reader uses Acapela voices.
Voice Dream Readerapp  provides text-to-speech that lets you listen to any articles, blog posts, reports, papers, and books. It reads the text using the best available text-to-speech technology. 

Apps for Organization and Productivity:
This is a huge category and there are many, many apps to provide support in these areas. This is one of the main supports I (and many others) use my iPad and iPhone for. I often wonder how I ever stayed organized before my iDevices became part of my life. 
The built in calendar with reminders is probably the most important tool you can use. You can set it to remind you of your appointments in various time increments. It will beep, give you a visual cue...remind you more than once!! It is crucial to use this wonderful tool if you are someone who has any type of life with things you need to remember!
Evernote is perfect for taking quick voice, text, and image notes to use later. The app can also sync with Evernote’s desktop and web versions. Evernote gives whole new meaning to the word “synchronized.” This software uses technology to help organize various types of information from several different sources into one, central, web-based location. The product also allows you to clip web pages and archive them for later reference, store screen shots, photos and text notes, all within a customizable storage system. Evernote will organize things for you by the date a note or other document was created.It is a must have.

Note taking Apps: 
(That sync audio and notes at the individual note level- clicking within text or a drawing, jumps to that place in recording so that the listener does not need to listen to the whole recording playback.) 
Audi olio
Audiotorium Notes
NoteBook for iPad

Here is more links.were you can find more apps and videos for the  blind and visually impaired.
My blog iPhone iPad apps for the blind and visually impaired gets updated once or twice a week. If you'd like to get updates please use the follow by e-mail feature. Or use the contact form provided and let me know if you would like to receive updates. http://iphoneandipadappsfortheblind.blogspot.com/search/label/iPad
My Pinterest pin board changes weekly so keep your eye out for more pens.https://www.pinterest.com/chelseaastark/iphone-and-ipad-apps-for-blind-and-visually-impair

Also check out The History of Apple i Phone's blog.
You can also join the Facebook group titled iPhone iPad Apps for the Blind VisuallyImpaired it is a fun Group to ask questions and learn new things. We are always happy to add new members.