Your smartphone is one of the most indispensable objects you carry around with you every day. However, you probably don’t think about the fact that for many people, it’s not so simple to use one. Things as basic as opening an app or simply seeing what appears on the screen can be a problem for users with certain physical or neurological problems. That’s why there are accessibility apps on Android that aim to help people will all sorts of impairments and solve any problems they may have when using a smartphone.
Today, we’ve put together a list of some of the best accessibility apps for your Android smartphone that will hopefully make these devices easier to use for everyone. Apps that will make simple tasks many of take for granted, a bit easier for people who may have certain disabilities: apps for vision problems that are able to recognize what you aim your camera at, apps that connect you with people who can help you, ones that will guide you through paths without architectural barriers, and apps that lets you use your smartphone hands-free.
Be My Eyes
Be My Eyes is one of the most popular and useful apps. It works like any other image recognition app but it doesn’t use a machine or artificial intelligence. Instead, one of the thousands of volunteers behind the app will be ready to help you.
The way it works is simple. You just have to focus on something using your phone’s screen for the person to tell you what it is and give you general information about the object in question, or specific details like the ingredients or expiration date in the case of food products. If you use the camera to focus on a can of soda or a milk carton, the person will tell you what it is or describe it. Imagine you have two cans of soda that are the same shape but have different content. For example, one with sugar and one without. In that case, you just have to use Be My Eyes to aim at the cans and have someone help you find out which one is which.
One of the key aspects of Be My Eyes is the community of volunteers it offers and that are there to respond to users’ questions. It’s not an automatic recognition system, but instead, thousands of users around the world who will respond to your questions. It’s an app that should be installed on every single smartphone: some for helping, and others to able to ask for help. [Download]
Envision AI is another one of the best accessibility apps that’s able to recognize what you’re looking at using your camera. Although this time, it uses artificial intelligence instead of real humans. Envision AI lets you focus on anything to give you information about its features: telling you the time when you point at a clock face, or even transcribing the text found on a street sign.
This app is capable of reading texts printed on any surface, reading aloud whatever you aim your camera at. It also lets you recognize known faces and even find out what they’re doing at a certain moment. It’ll also describe situations or objects that are around you and you need information about.
In this case, it’s AI at work and you may come across some small errors when it comes to recognizing objects. The app will learn more and more about your environment the more you use it, making it an increasingly useful tool with fewer mistakes. [Download]
Lazarillo is a guide app for the blind. Using this app, your smartphone will help you to get around and find out what services and locations are near you at all times. It’ll help tell you where to turn or when you’re going to arrive and uses voice commands to give you indications.
Lazarillo lets you choose a specific place you want to go or search for different establishments close to you, like pharmacies, for example. The app uses voice commands to guide you through the streets and always takes into account that the path is free of architectural barriers that would make your journey more difficult. Plus, if you don’t want to walk to your destination, it can help get you there by bus or in private vehicles like Uber.
It’s a must-have app and it’s really useful for getting where you need to go, finding any sort of establishment, or for getting around strange cities if you travel. [Download]
To control your smartphone on a daily basis, Voice Access is a must-have app. You can manage your device without touching the screen, with only your voice. It can be used to browse websites, download apps, or save favorites. All this using your voice and a selection of numbers assigned to each element that appears on the screen.
When you install Voice Access, the screen becomes divided into numbers which you’re previously made aware of. To complete any action, you just have to say the number you want to execute and the app will automatically open it. You can also access any type of service, read the news aloud, or browse through your smartphone just like you would with your hands.
One of the useful features of Voice Access is that it also lets you dictate text to transcribe it. Directly from the app, you can talk and the app will automatically type out what you say without having to touch the screen even once. [Download]
Google Talkback is the Google app for users with vision problems. Basically, the app lets you enable all sorts of features to make it easier to use your smartphone. For example, to hear everything you touch on your screen said aloud. Just slide your finger around the different elements and the smartphone will tell you what you’re touching. This way you can know where you want to touch and where not to.
This app is probably the most must-have tool on the entire list. It’s a comprehensive app with all sorts of features and an audio guide for your device in order to use it easily at any time. Spoken comments and vibrations that will help users easily navigate around Android, for anyone with poor eyesight. Plus, it can be combined with Google BrailleBack to have an even more complete smartphone experience. [Download]
As its name indicates, this app lets you use your smartphone with a braille device. It works with other Google accessibility apps and can combine voice with a braille system to use your smartphone. What’s more, you can connect the device to a compatible braille screen to enter all sorts of text.
The braille device will connect through Bluetooth and to start using Google BrailleBack, you just have to go to Settings > Accessibility > BrailleBack to turn on usage permissions. [Download]
Linguoo is a really interesting app for anyone with vision problems to help them stay informed. Linguoo is designed as a news manager for blind users. It provides the news in the form of narrated audio clips, organized into categories that are easy to access from its interface.
Once you find something that interests you, Linguoo will read it aloud for you. It works like a radio and is great for anyone who prefers to hear the news instead of read it. But it’s clear that its purpose is more for accessibility, providing access to information in audio form that may not be available through typical channels. You can access categories like culture, audiobooks, technology, health, international, etc. [Download]