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

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    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 valuable service for individuals with low vision. It connects users with trained remote agents who provide real-time visual assistance through a smartphone app or smart glasses. Users can access a live video stream, and agents assist in various tasks like reading labels, navigating unfamiliar environments, identifying objects, and more. Aira enhances independence and accessibility, empowering individuals with low vision to overcome visual barriers and engage in daily activities with confidence and ease. 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 audiobooks. 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 audiobooks. 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 that 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 podcatcher. 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 Specialist 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, Senior 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. Magnifier (built-in to iPhone)

    The iPhone magnifier app is a powerful tool designed to assist individuals with low vision. It enables users to transform their iPhone camera into a magnifying glass, allowing them to zoom in on text, objects, or any fine details. The app provides enhanced visibility, adjustable contrast, and lighting options, empowering users to read books, menus, labels, and more with greater ease and independence, enhancing their overall visual experience.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 3. Shortcuts (built-in to iPhone)

    Shortcuts on your iPhone offer invaluable assistance to individuals with low vision. With Shortcuts, users can create personalized automation sequences to simplify daily tasks. By customizing shortcuts, users can quickly access features like adjusting display settings, enabling voiceover or zoom, activating color filters, and launching accessibility apps. These shortcuts streamline accessibility settings and functionalities, enhancing the user experience for people with low vision and allowing them to navigate their iPhones with greater ease and convenience.

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

    Aira is a valuable service for individuals with low vision. It connects users with trained remote agents who provide real-time visual assistance through a smartphone app or smart glasses. Users can access a live video stream, and agents assist in various tasks like reading labels, navigating unfamiliar environments, identifying objects, and more. Aira enhances independence and accessibility, empowering individuals with low vision to overcome visual barriers and engage in daily activities with confidence and ease. Click here to learn more about Aira.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 5. 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 6. 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.  Click here to learn more about BARD.

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

    The Libby app is a wonderful resource for people with low vision. It allows users to access a vast collection of ebooks and audiobooks from their local library. With adjustable text sizes, customizable fonts, and compatibility with screen reader technologies, Libby ensures an inclusive reading experience for individuals with low vision. It offers the freedom to explore and enjoy a wide range of literature, fostering a love for reading and providing equal access to knowledge and entertainment. Click here to learn more about Libby.

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

    The Hoopla app is a fantastic resource for individuals with low vision. It allows users to borrow and stream a wide variety of digital content, including audiobooks, ebooks, music, movies, and TV shows from their local library. With features like adjustable font sizes, customizable display settings, and compatibility with screen readers, Hoopla ensures an inclusive and accessible entertainment experience for people with low vision. It offers a convenient and enjoyable way to access and explore a wealth of digital media. Click here to learn more about Hoopla.

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

    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.

     


    From Michelle Perkins, Senior 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. 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 are 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/iPads 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 audiobooks. 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 that 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. 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’ IEPs. Michelle is skilled in providing training, evaluations, and support in adaptive technology for the visually impaired, although her heart belongs to 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 whenever she can.


    From William Hawley, 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

    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.  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. Lookout

    Basically Android’s version of Seeing AI. Lookout uses computer vision to assist people with low vision or blindness get things done faster and more easily. Using your phone’s camera, Lookout makes it easier to get more information about the world around you and do daily tasks more efficiently like sorting mail, putting away groceries, and more. Click here to learn more about Lookout

    3. WeZoom

    Android magnifier that is very similar to the iPhone built-in magnifier. It’s totally free and has no ads. Also, it was reviewed by The Blind Life youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AlEbaKZMfJk) Click here to learn more about WeZoom

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 4. Magnifier (built-in to iPhone)

    The iPhone magnifier app is a powerful tool designed to assist individuals with low vision. It enables users to transform their iPhone camera into a magnifying glass, allowing them to zoom in on text, objects, or any fine details. The app provides enhanced visibility, adjustable contrast, and lighting options, empowering users to read books, menus, labels, and more with greater ease and independence, enhancing their overall visual experience.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 5. GoTalk Now
    GoTalk NOW has all the essentials of an effective AAC app, like adjustable page layouts, customizable navigation, recorded and text-to-speech capabilities, and an included symbol set. But we sweated the details to create unique and compelling features that clearly separate NOW from other AAC apps. Click here to learn more about GoTalk Now.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 6. 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.  Click here to learn more about BARD.

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

    The Libby app is a wonderful resource for people with low vision. It allows users to access a vast collection of ebooks and audiobooks from their local library. With adjustable text sizes, customizable fonts, and compatibility with screen reader technologies, Libby ensures an inclusive reading experience for individuals with low vision. It offers the freedom to explore and enjoy a wide range of literature, fostering a love for reading and providing equal access to knowledge and entertainment. Click here to learn more about Libby.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 8. 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 9. NavCog

    NavCog provides turn-by-turn navigation for diverse users (e.g., blind users, wheelchair users, and general pedestrians) by BLE-based precise localization. NavCog is an indoor/outdoor navigation App that aimed specifically to help people with visual impairments explore the world without vision. This App provides customized navigation for wheelchair users and is also helpful for people who are not familiar with inside buildings and at huge and complex places such as universities, airports, hospitals, and shopping malls. Click here to learn more about NavCog.

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices 10. 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 audiobooks. Click here to learn more about Audible.

     

    Top Must-Have Apps for People Who are Blind or with Low Vision Technology Top Choices About William:  William is an Assistive Technology Consultant who joined New England Low Vision and Blindness in 2022. He has been working in the field of assistive technology for over 16 years and has worked in various other IT industries for over 30 years, including systems administration, medical software consulting, product design, and software and mobile application development, to name a few.  His experience and skill set has grown exponentially since his first business venture selling and servicing PCs as a side business out of his house, and he has been fortunate and ambitious enough to work under various IT-related titles since then such as Assistant Systems Administrator for a large auto group, Lead Medical Software Support Specialist for a medical software VAR, and Lead Developer on several web and media projects.  William’s interests and hobbies include web development, music and video production, 360-degree and drone aerial photography, as well as 3D modeling and prototyping.  He is a fan of retro sci-fi and is a huge Star Wars and Star Trek geek.

     


    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-lp/

    Free Low Vision Guide: If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with low vision, we have created this 12-section Low Vision Guide – 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, even remote training – 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 at 888-211-6933 or email us at info@nelowvision.com and we will be happy to help.

    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 the 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-lp/

    Free Low Vision Guide: If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with low vision, we have created this complimentary Low Vision Guide a free resource to help you or loved one who has been diagnosed with Macular Degeneration or other low vision conditions. Click here to download a PDF of the entire report.

    Corporate Brochure: Our comprehensive brochure outlines all of the helpful assistive technology and assistive training services we provide. Click here to download our Corporate Brochure.

    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. Click here to learn more.

    Training: Assistive 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. Click here to learn more.

    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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