Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision

These top must-have apps are designed to make the daily challenges for people who are visually impaired a little easier.


From Jerry Berrier, Assistive Technology Specialist, New England Low Vision and Blindness

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  1. Seeing AI from Microsoft

Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.  Why does Jerry recommend Seeing AI from Microsoft: Scan and read documents or computer screen; Great light detector; Var code reader; Scene describer—not always accurate, unless there really was a horse in my back yard in Malden last summer; Money reader; Handwriting reader…. I have not tried that yet; It’s free    Click here to learn more about Seeing AI from Microsoft.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  2. AIRA

Aira is a live, human-to-human professional assistance service, an accommodation or productivity tool, that enhances independence by delivering on-demand, skilled and reliable visual interpreting for just about any task. Click here to learn more about Aira.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  3. BARD

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a free library service of downloadable braille and audio reading material for residents of the United States and U.S. citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. BARD provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music scores.  Why does Jerry recommend BARD:  I can listen to NLS audio books. Click here to learn more about BARD.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  4. Lyft

Lyft, Inc. is an American mobility as a service provider that develops, markets, and operates a mobile app, offering ride-hailing, vehicles for hire, motorized scooters, a bicycle-sharing system, rental cars, and food delivery. Click here to learn more about Lyft.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  5. GoodMaps Outdoors

GoodMaps provides a customer portal where venue owners can access and edit their digital maps in multiple views: 2D floorplan, 3D model, and LiDAR point cloud. Within the portal, owners have the ability to maintain/edit point of interest (POI) data. Why does Jerry recommend GoodMaps Outdoors: Recent improvements and great for pedestrian and vehicle navigation. Click here to learn more about GoodMaps Outdoors.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  6. LarkWire

Larkwire is a simple, easy-to-learn, ingenious app that will have you identifying birds by ear in no time! There is no better way to learn birds’ songs. Larkwire is a complete, game-based learning system for mastering bird sounds and visual identification. Why does Jerry recommend Larkwire: Excellent audio birding app; Probably not on most people’s top ten list, but definitely on mine. Click here to learn more about LarkWire.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  7. Zoom

Zoom is a proprietary videotelephony software program developed by Zoom Video Communications. The free plan allows up to 100 concurrent participants, with a 40-minute time restriction. Users have the option to upgrade by subscribing to a paid plan. Why does Jerry recommend Zoom: Very accessible and very useful. Click here to learn more about Zoom.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  8. Audible

Audible is an American online audiobook and podcast service that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content. Why does Jerry recommend Audible : I can listen to audio books. Click here to learn more about Audible.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  9. Overcast

Overcast is an iOS app by Marco Arment which downloads and plays podcasts. It has been positively reviewed by several journalists, with The Verge and The Sweet Setup both naming it as the best podcast listening app for iOS in 2015 and subsequent years. Why does Jerry recommend Overcast: Excellent pod catcher. Click here to learn more about Overcast.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  10. NFB-Newsline

NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more. Why does Jerry recommend NFB-NEWSLINE: Fantastic for reading newspapers, magazines, etc. 

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  11. Kindle

Select from a massive selection of books, newspapers, comics, and Audible audiobooks. Store thousands of books, magazines, or comics and take your library with you. Great for gifts. Week Long Battery. Dedicated eBook Reader. Why does Jerry recommend Kindle: I am able to read Kindle books on the iPhone with Voiceover. Click here to learn more about Kindle.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  About Jerry: Jerry is an Assistive Technology Consultant who joined New England Low Vision and Blindness in 2021. Jerry has worked in the field of assistive technology for over 20 years.  He spent six years as assistant manager at the Verizon center for customers with disabilities, followed by seven years as an assistive technology consultant specializing in work with Deafblind consumers. Most recently, he ended a nine-year stint at the Perkins School for the Blind in the field of assistive technology. Jerry is past president and current secretary of the Bay State Council of the Blind, and past president of VIBUG, a long-standing Boston-based group of technology users.

 


From Stephanie Abruzzo, Assistive Technology Specialist, New England Low Vision and Blindness

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  1. Seeing AI from Microsoft

Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.  Click here to learn more about Seeing AI from Microsoft.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  2. Voice Dream Suite – Contains the following bundled applications

  • Voice Dream Reader – lets you listen to any document and ebook using text-to-speech. Featured by Apple as Best New App and App of the Day in 81 countries and part of App Store Permanent Collections in Education.)
  • Voice Dream Scanner – scan paper documents, labels, signs with the camera and recognize text. Listen using built-in text-to-speech. Save and export. Unlimited use: no subscriptions or additional charges.
  • Voice Dream Writer – helps everyone write better: Text-to-speech proofreading reduces mistakes, phonetic and meaning search help you use the right words, and an active outline helps you organize and improve the structure of your writing.
  • Voice Pack – adds two of the best US English voices, Sharon and James, to Voice Dream Reader and Voice Dream Writer

Click here to learn more about Voice Dream Suite

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  3. Alexa

Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices. Because Alexa is a voice activated tool, those who are blind or visually impaired can use it for tasks such as texting, phone calls, list making, checking on the calendar, turning devices on an off, calling 911 and much, much more. Click here to learn more about Alexa.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  4. Be My Eyes

Be My Eyes is a suite of products designed on a simple premise: to harness the power of technology and human connection to assist people who are blind or have low vision to lead more independent lives. With the press of a button, the app establishes a live video connection between blind and low vision users and either sighted volunteers, company representatives or sighted co-workers. Click here to learn more about Be My Eyes.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  5. Learning Ally

Learning Ally, which was previously named Recording for the Blind & Dyslexic, is a non-profit volunteer organization operating nationwide in the United States. It produces and maintains a library of educational accessible audiobooks for people who cannot effectively read standard print because of visual impairment, dyslexia, or other disabilities. Click here to learn more about Learning Ally.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  6. Audible

Audible is an American online audiobook and podcast service that allows users to purchase and stream audiobooks and other forms of spoken word content. Click here to learn more about Audible.

 

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  7. TapTapSee

TapTapSee is a mobile camera application designed specifically for blind and visually impaired users, powered by the CloudSight Image Recognition API. TapTapSee utilizes your device’s camera and VoiceOver functions to take a picture or video of anything and identify it out loud for you. Click here to learn more about TapTapSee.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices

8. NFB-NEWSLINE

NFB-NEWSLINE is a free audio news service for anyone who is blind, low-vision, deafblind, or otherwise print-disabled that offers access to more than 500 publications, emergency weather alerts, job listings, and more.

 

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  9. KNFB Reader

KNFB Reader is an award-winning mobile app for blind, low-vision, dyslexic, and other print-disabled users that converts text to speech or text to Braille. The KNFB Reader app is an essential tool for anyone with low vision, visual impairments, difficulty reading, reading disabilities such as dyslexia, as well as blind individuals. Click here to learn more about KNFB Reader.


From Michelle Perkins, Senior Assistive Technology Specialist and Trainer, New England Low Vision and Blindness

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  1. Amazon for Shopping

It is difficult these days to search for any consumer product without finding an Amazon link near the very top of your search results. One of the reasons for this state of affairs is that, along with Amazon’s own inventory of products, they also allow other merchants to sell their goods, new and used, through the Amazon website, so in effect you are shopping the selection of tens of thousands of large and small online merchants. Shopping on Amazon is convenient and great for anyone visually impaired because it works on a screen reader.  Learn more about Amazon for Shopping

2. Talking Calculator

Large print and talking calculators are an example of how everyday tools are being made accessible to people who are blind or visually impaired and assisting them in the classroom, at work, and at home. The two devices shown here look like standard desktop calculators, but they both provide speech output. One of them also shows enlarged numerals on its LCD display. Great for low vision and works with a screen reader.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  2. Voice Dream Suite – Contains the following bundled applications:

  • Voice Dream Reader – lets you listen to any document and ebook using text-to-speech. Featured by Apple as Best New App and App of the Day in 81 countries and part of App Store Permanent Collections in Education.)
  • Voice Dream Scanner – scan paper documents, labels, signs with the camera and recognize text. Listen using built-in text-to-speech. Save and export. Unlimited use: no subscriptions or additional charges.
  • Voice Dream Writer – helps everyone write better: Text-to-speech proofreading reduces mistakes, phonetic and meaning search help you use the right words, and an active outline helps you organize and improve the structure of your writing.
  • Voice Pack – adds two of the best US English voices, Sharon and James, to Voice Dream Reader and Voice Dream Writer

Learn more about Voice Dream Suite

4. Braille Tutor

For use on an iPad fun way to learn braille for a sighted person. Self voiced but also has Accessibility. Braille Tutor provides an interactive learning experience for a sighted or blind braille learner. It works on iPad using onscreen keys or home keys on a Bluetooth keyboard. It is self-voiced, but also works with iOS accessibility. The app uses sounds and text-to-speech to support vision-impaired learners. Using a Bluetooth keyboard also gives the user a feel of the keys.

Learn more about  Braille Tutor

5. BlindSquare

Uses iPhones/iPad’s GPS to identify things around you.  BlindSquare is the world’s most widely used accessible GPS-app developed for the blind, deafblind and partially sighted. Paired with third-party navigation apps, BlindSquare’s self-voicing app delivers detailed points of interest and intersections for safe, reliable travel both outside and inside. Open the doors to enhanced independence with BlindSquare.

Learn more about BlindSquare

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  6. Seeing AI from Microsoft

Scan and read text, money identifier, and more. Seeing AI is a free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the blind and low vision community, this ongoing research project harnesses the power of AI to open up the visual world and describe nearby people, text and objects.   

Learn more about Seeing AI from Microsoft

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices

7. BARD

BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) is a free library service of downloadable braille and audio reading material for residents of the United States and U.S. citizens living abroad who are unable to read or use standard printed material because of visual or physical disabilities. BARD provides access to thousands of special-format books, magazines, and music scores.  Why does Jerry recommend BARD:  I can listen to NLS audio books.

Learn more about BARD

8. Blind Mahjong

Works with a screen reader and up to four people can play online at the same time. Traditional Chinese Mahjong was made accessible to everybody, including those who are blind or visually impaired. One player can play the game offline. Up to four players can play online. It is for all ages, allowing kids and adults to bond through playing together. Enjoy all the improved memorization, concentration, strategic thinking skills, and social skills that this relaxing game can bring you!

Learn more about Blind Mahjong

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  9. Easy Reader by Dolphin

EasyReader is a free app which makes reading more accessible for readers who are visually impaired, have a neurodiverse condition such as dyslexia or any other print impairment. Sign in to your favorite talking book libraries to find, download and read accessible books for leisure and learning. With EasyReader, you can customize your reading experience: adjust and magnify text, change color schemes, synchronize text with speech or use the speech settings alone to listen to books.

Learn more about Easy Reader by Dolphin

10. Weather God

Weather app with lots of visuals with great descriptions when using a screen reader.

Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices  About Michelle:  Michelle is a Senior Assistive Technology Specialist and Trainer She is recognized as the best in the business of working with schools and in classrooms with children who are blind or visually impaired. Michelle has been working with adaptive computer technology since 1995. Yes, that was the tail-end of the DOS years for adaptive technology. Michelle typically works alongside the TVI, and she provides Assistive Technology Evaluations for students IEP. Michelle is skilled in providing trainings, evaluations and support in adaptive technology for the visually impaired, although her heart belongs to the blindness products. In Michelle’s adaptive technology travels, she has worked in schools, businesses; small and large, private homes, and organizations. She has also worked with people in many states in the USA and even as far away as India. Michelle loves to listen to books; it’s one of her favorite things to do, and she listens where ever and when ever she can.


How Can We Help You Or A Loved One

Mr. Magnifier: If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, our Mr. Magnifier handheld magnifiers are perfect 1st Step for anyone with Macular Degeneration!  Here’s a link to very helpful information, including a free Magnification Guide – https://nelowvision.com/mr-magnifier/

Free eBook: If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration, we have created this 12-section eBook “Now What? – a free resource to help you or loved one who has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration. <Click here to download a PDF of the entire report.>

Technology: We offer the latest and most advanced low vision and blindness technology supported by world-class personal service. We have nearly 100% of all major electronic low vision, blindness, and software products. Our complimentary, no-obligation demonstration on any of our products will make sure our clients are getting the right product for their specific eye condition.

Training: Technology rehabilitation training services for people with low vision and blindness.  We go to our clients – home, school, or business – training where they need it – from caring assistive technology professionals.

Smart Home: Our Smart Home services can help design a solution to help our clients or their loved ones remain independent by using the many features of a Smart Home. <Click here to learn more.>

Bring Hope: We Bring Hope to people who are blind or visually impaired through the many products and services we offer. <Click here to learn more about our Bring Hope services.>

Convenience: Our two(2) state-of-the-art technology showrooms are a wonderful resource, showcasing a variety of leading electronic low vision magnifiers and blindness products. Our clients schedule an appointment with one of our Technology Specialists who can help you find the right technology, training, and care solution.  If our client cannot come to us, our staff can even drive out and bring our Vision Store to them, for a no-obligation product demonstration.

To learn more about how we can help you or a loved one, contact a Technology Specialist at New England Low Vision and Blindness today. You can call our toll-free number 888-211-6933 or email us at info@nelowvision.com and we will be happy to help.

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