Here are five innovative apps made for the visually impaired to help them navigate the world
NAVIGATING the world with disabilities can be challenging. However, thanks to technology, apps and smartphones are rapidly advancing to help people with disabilities to find their way around the world much better. World Sight Day falls on the second week of Thursday every October, and for this year, we would like to shine a spotlight on some of the apps that have been created for the visually impaired.
Be My Eyes
At the top of the list, Be My Eyes is an amazing app that instantly allows volunteers all over the world to ‘lend their sight’ to a visually impaired person. The app is simple. It’s free, and supports more than 185 languages. You can select the languages you understand; usually, the tasks are simple and can be completed in just a few minutes. If you’re busy, there’s no need to answer because someone else will get it.
Tasks range from reading small print, matching clothes, troubleshooting technology, and setting up home appliances, to any other simple task a volunteer can complete over live video. Anyone 17 or older may sign up as a user or volunteer, and calls are connected based on your daytime timezone and language. When a call is answered, a live one-way video (two-way audio) is initiated, allowing volunteers to see what’s in front of the user’s camera and provide verbal support. Personally, I’ve been using this app for a few years now, and being able to help, even in this small way, makes my day.
Aira is an app-based service, just like Be My Eyes, except visual interpretation is done by trained, certified professionals. Activities include straightforward ones like sorting mail or reading menus, to straight-up amazing activities like running a marathon or climbing a mountain. Through an integrated dashboard, an Aira Agent is able to immerse themselves in the world of a person who is blind or has low vision, seeing and hearing their environment.
Agents also have access to web-based data, including maps, location tracking, search engines, text-based messaging and even rideshare integration – all carefully calibrated to provide people who are blind or have low vision with a seamless and positive experience. Aira has also created a community of Aira Access Networks which is comprised of businesses such as airports, grocery stores, universities, and even retail stores which allows Aira users (who are known as Explorers) to use for free everyday.
A Blind Legend
Visuals of a video game are always what draws players in the first place, but with A Blind Legend, your ears replace your eyes with its innovative sensory experience of binaural 3D sound. As the first visually impaired-friendly video game, the game features full 3D environments, outlined in detail through directional audio and cues, and even features a surprisingly challenging combat system. It’s a game full of twists, throwing in numerous gameplay styles from stealth, horse-riding, combat, and even careful navigation of treacherous terrain.
Needless to say, it’s full of surprises as you embark on an epic, perilous rite of passage as Edward Blake, the famous blind knight. Guided by your daughter Louise, you must find your way and avoid the many traps that lie in the High Castle Kingdom, while confronting dangerous enemies.
Having a game like A Blind Legend also helps raise public awareness of vision disabilities, so even if you’re not visually impaired, you can still enjoy playing the game and get a taste of how it feels like to explore the world around you with just your ears.
Sullivan+ is a visual-aid app that uses AI to tell visually impaired and low vision users what’s in front of them with their smartphone camera. For low vision people, they have difficulty seeing texts or documents such as mail or newspapers, and Sullivan+ has Text Recognition which reads the text for them out loud. Although blind people recognise people by touch or voice, Sullivan+ has a Face Recognition feature which recognises a person and can give a good guess about the person’s age and gender. Besides that, it can also identify objects around the users and creates a sentence that describes the identified scene with its Image Description feature.
For the visually impaired who have difficulty choosing the colour of clothes they want to wear, the Colour Recognition feature can detect the colour of the item in front of them. As for visually impaired people who live with other sighted people, the Light Brightness feature lets them know if the lights are on, which helps them to make sure their lights are off for the night. Lastly, they also have a Magnifying glass function that enlarges text and inverts the colour because having colours that are starkly different from each other can help a person with low vision to see better.
Vorail allows people to meet virtually just by their voices, their contributions to conversations and the questions they ask with the app. As an app without any pictures, Vorail aims to let the users see the true beauty of a person within.
Members of the Vorail community create ask-alls which are general questions about any topic such as news, health, technology, religion, or sports. When users speak to each other, they can see the world differently and connect in a way that is deeper than liking a photo. Instead of buttons and visual, gestures are used to swipe navigate the app. Vorail is an audio-only experience in which you can participate in public or private one-to-one conversations.