An iPhone is very powerful computer that we often take for granted and simply use to check Twitter or Reddit and play some games or watch videos of puppies. But for the visually-impaired, an iPhone can be very helpful tool that support them throughout the day and bring them a bigger sense of independence. With the right apps, the iPhone’s camera solves a slew of problems that blind people have traditionally relied on bulky, single-use devices to handle. Here are 7 of the best camera apps for the blind and visually impaired iPhone users.
Accessing simple information can be frustratingly difficult for people living with a visual impairment. From finding directions to their desired destination to opening and answering an email from a coworker, tasks that the majority of people take for granted are often inaccessible to a large portion of the population.
Thankfully, technology keeps marching on. Innovations burst onto the scene every day, with new apps specifically designed to help blind and visually impaired people govern their own lives, on their own terms. And with the majority of these individuals being in possession of a smartphone, it’s truly a revolutionary time!
Apps on smartphones deliver more autonomy, and empower these individuals to live a less restrictive lifestyle and shed the stress of an inaccessible world. Let’s explore the top camera apps that are available to blind and visually impaired iPhone users.
1. Be My Eyes
A free mobile app, Be My Eyes connects blind and visually impaired individuals to sighted volunteers and companies who lend assistance in a variety of ways. These tasks include finding lost items, reading recipes, describing photos, explaining color schemes, reading labels on household products, providing directions to different locations, and so much more. It all happens via a live video call that’s initiated when a user logs onto the app and requests a sighted volunteer or corporate partner, depending on the need. From there, a video connection is established using the phone’s camera and microphone. Volunteers or corporate partners are called at random, while the technology matches are based on language and time zone.
Designed specifically for blind and visually impaired users—and powered by the CloudSight Image Recognition API—TapTapSee utilizes a smartphone’s camera and voiceover capabilities to take a picture or video of anything and identify it with a voice in real time. Users double tap on the right side of their screen to snap a photo and double tap on the left side to record a video. The TapTapSee app analyzes and identifies any two- or three-dimensional object at any angle within seconds.
Using a smartphone’s rear-facing camera, Lookout By Google identifies important items in the user’s environment, analyzes what it sees, and reports the information it believes is relevant. It’s a useful and reliable innovation that can read a variety of things, such as exit signs, nearby objects, people in the user’s vicinity, the location of a bathroom, and even text in a book. Meanwhile, the app’s spoken notifications are designed to have minimal interruptions so that the app doesn’t get in the way of everyday tasks with annoying notifications.
4. Seeing AI
Another app designed by a big name in technology—this time Microsoft—Seeing AI identifies and narrates the world around the user by utilizing the rear camera on a smartphone. Essentially transforming the unseen into an audible experience, Seeing AI identifies objects, people, and text. The user navigates to the “scene preview” channel, takes a photo, and is met with an audio description of the surroundings.
Supersense brings autonomy into the lives of blind and low-vision users by enabling text to speech, identifying currency, reading documents, and scanning barcodes. Using Object Explorer mode, the user slowly pans the phone and the app will convey what it sees in the smartphone’s field of vision. What’s more, Supersense’s scanner automatically detects whether you are trying to quickly read a piece of text, a long document, currency, or a barcode.
6. Cash Reader
Great for users handing out cash or counting bills that were handed over. The Cash Reader app not only speaks the denomination of the bills, but also has a silent setting that vibrates or displays the amount on the screen when discretion is of the utmost importance. The app supports more than 100 forms of currency in multiple languages. All the user needs to do is show just a small portion of the banknote to the camera and the app will pick up the image.
See also: An Overview of Several Currency Identifiers for Blind And Low Vision iPhone Users
7. VoiceDream Scanner
VoiceDream Scanner is an iOS app that can take pictures and perform Optical Character Recognition (OCR) on those images. After doing this, the text can be read, discarded, or saved. The recognition happens very quickly once the picture is taken. If enabled in settings, the app will begin speaking text shortly after OCR is finished.
VoiceDream Scanner is a fantastic tool for a variety of users who can benefit from using high quality OCR to have text read aloud. Older adults, users with visual impairments, dyslexia, intellectual disabilities, developmental disabilities, Learning Disabilities and anyone who struggles with the written word can benefit from using this app at home, at work or in the community.
While it is not free, the price is more than reasonable and the recognition is top-notch! The developer is committed to keeping the payment structure as a one time purchase and not requiring a subscription to continue to use. If you are looking for an OCR app that does not break the bank, give this one a try.
See also: New iPhone App Enables Blind to Translate Braille to Text
This list barely scratches the surface when it comes to accessibility apps meant to assist blind and low-vision individuals in accomplishing a multitude of tasks. And with new technological advancements occurring every day, the visually impaired population will continue to gain more and more options to make their world a little brighter and their lives a little more independent.
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