In everyday life, we often do not think about how do the disabled people live, what problems they have to face. And the point here is not so much in spiritual insensitivity as in the fact that there are very few points of contact between people with disabilities and society. Often the world of such people is confined by the walls of the apartment where they live, and the circle of communication is limited only by the closest relatives.
Until recently, almost the only “access to the big world” for such citizens remained TV or radio. However, these means of communication are primarily informational and do not meet the needs of people with disabilities in communication, do not allow them to live an active life.
We all have own challenges in our lives- emotional, mental, and physical. Some people have bigger challenges, some have smaller ones, while other need way more assistance, than the previous.
Software for physically disabled people takes a really special place in a colossal scope of various software available in the market.
The sphere of the application of such software is quite specific, which, nevertheless, does not reduce the demand for providing adaptive software for people with physical disabilities. Use of the freedom granted by access to the Global Web is entitled to all categories of consumers, including those with limited physical capabilities.
Stephen Hawking, the most known disabled man in the world, and his wheelchair.
Stephen Hawking is the most famous disabled man in the world. The astrophysicist, who introduced black holes into the mass culture, and the author of The Brief History of Time (millions of copies sold), is completely paralyzed since he was 30 but continues to lecture and write books.
Stephen owes the American company Words + which has built a revolutionary system of communication with the outside world and integrated it into his wheelchair in 1985.
On the portraits of astrophysics, you can see a silver device with the size of a paper clip attached to the frame of the glasses. This is an infrared motion sensor alike the ones used in cameras, pedometers and game consoles. But the sensor on Stephen’s glasses is connected to an incomparably more complex computer system. It works accordingly to the behavior of facial muscles — the only ones that were not destroyed by the disease — it determines where his glance is directed.
If the target is a specific area on the computer screen, Hawking can “click” it by the effort of his will. In this way he types articles, writes letters and even speaks out loud, sending text by letter to the speech synthesizer.
In addition, Hawking’s “smart house” is also managed with the help of mimic signals, read from his face.
Categories of programs for disabled people.
In addition to the vital technical equipment for most disabled people for full or at least partial work at a stationary computer or laptop, specialized adaptive software for people with physical disabilities is also required.
Such programs can be divided into a number of categories, covering most of the areas of application presented by the capabilities of computer technology.
- Magnifying glass or screen magnification systems;
- Software for reading;
- Software for scanning and recognition of text;
- Applications for navigation;
- Means of communication;
Here in this review, we will talk about the best representatives from the “apps for disabled category”. We will overview and analyze the diverse applications helping people with different problems.
Starting with, we would like to introduce the most helpful tools for people with motor, speech and language disorders like ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis), brain damage, autism, Parkinson’s disease, and Cerebral Palsy.
Current application of a full-featured AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) software for the iPad.
It gives the speech to people, who lacks it.
- An intuitive design;
- An easy to use interface;
- A built-in availability to email people;
- An availability to add own phrases;
- 5 high-quality voices to use.
- Does not support iPhone yet.
Talkitt software is aimed to help people suffering from speech disorders. In fact, it is an application, which is capable of recognizing user’s vocal patterns and reproducing the words in a Stephen Hawking-style voice.
- Talkitt supports either smartphones or tablets (PC, laptops and wearable devices later)
- Talkitt offers a set of convenient features like an availability to shop, make phone calls, meet friends and others.
- Supports any language you might need (French, Chinese, English etc.)
- Not disclosed yet.
Touch Voice +.
Current application falls into a category of software, which helps people with speech disorders to communicate with the world.
It transforms a mobile tablet into an AAC device for people unable to produce understandable speech.
- An auto speaking button;
- A convenient interface;
- A high visibility in low light conditions;
- An availability to install custom speech voices.
- Personal fatigue for users with peculiar problems.
Next up, we will consider the most popular software for people who are blind or visually impaired.
Be My Eyes.
This application is aimed to help blind or visually impaired people. It connects blind people who need assistance with sighted volunteers willing to help by dint of a direct video connection. As an example of practice, we would deliver an occasion, when blind people need an assistance to make their way around a new place.
To get an assistance, a disabled person needs to enter a request, which will notify the volunteers. It would be informative to highlight, that Be My Eyes app has over 100,000 sighted volunteers active.
- An abundance of sighted volunteers;
- An intuitive structure;
- Easy to use.
- Lots of blind people do not know about the application yet.
Ariadne GPS is an application from a range of those aimed to help blind or visually impaired. Its principle of operation is based on the talking maps. It allows blind people to explore the environment while moving a finger around the map. A rotating and responsive map keeps a disabled person centered.
- A vibrating system notifying crossing the street;
- Announces bus or train stops;
- A multiple language support.
- No availability to set up the specific route.
Color ID Free.
Current app is designed to identify the color by dint of aiming your smartphone camera at the peculiar object. Color ID Free helps to recognize the hex value of the color in order to identify the color your camera sees. Apart from identifying the color, the application speaks the names of colors in real time. This software comes in handy for people, who are color blind. It brings useful experience.
- Provides a full description of either specific colors, or simple ones.
- The issues with saving a photo on iPad 3 are known.
Continuing with useful software, we introduce the most popular applications for Children with autism spectrum disorders, Down’s syndrome, Angelman’s Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and other disabilities.
AVAZ application is originated in Australia. It enables children with autism to speak using pictures. As an example, this application is popular in speech therapy sessions. AVAZ helps to develop language and to stimulate the intent to communicate. It uses picture symbols and a voice in order to help non-verbal users create messages. The AVAZ Pro version of the software has an additional set of convenient functions like growth tracking and boards sharing on Facebook/ Twitter.
- An A-grade education value;
- Flexible and easy to use;
- A responsive interface;
- An availability to add own picture symbols;
- No active Internet connection required.
- Voice issues.
Next, we come up with applications for deaf and hearing impaired people.
Roger Voice application is created to assist people with hearing disorders. It is based on a voice-to-text system. By dint of voice recognition, it converts voice to text in order to provide the deaf people with “hearing” of phone calls by reading.
- Automated real-time captioning;
- Automated voice synthesis;
- An availability to insert custom predefined messages.
- Still, has issues in words recognition.
This application turns a phone into a hearing aid by processing the sound from the microphone and playing the processed sound back over the headphones in real-time.
The application is designed by hearing scientists accordingly to the recent scientific developments in the biology of hearing.
- Fully-adjustable options;
- A balance slider for additional convenience.
- The application is still in development, so issues are possible.
TapTap provides people with hearing disorders an ability to respond to their audio environment. A fully-adjustable application will be extremely useful for people who need more, than a hearing aid.
Shout, crash or roar, the TapTap will let you know you are being called. The sound activates the phone to vibrate and flash.
- Adjustable settings;
- Easy to Use;
- No serious issues found.
This app will come in handy for people with hearing difficulties also. It is intended for use in the public environment. Under the conditions of bear-garden places like restaurants, meetings, and parties, HearYouNow allows a user to optimize the foreground and background sounds.
- A simple and convenient interface;
- Customizable options;
- Adjustable low/mid/high sound frequencies;
- The app crashes from time to time.
And in the end, let us consider the useful applications for children and adults who benefit from visual support, including those with Autism, attention or auditory processing deficits, learning disabilities, or anxiety.
This simple and convenient application allows users to create visual guides using photos. This method is very useful in terms of making sense of daily routines and schedules. The “paths” created in virtue of this user -friendly application make great graphic organizers.
- A simple interface;
- A parental lock system;
- Record audio instructions for non-readers;
- A visual countdown timer.
- Once you create your “path”, it’s made. There is no availability of rearranging or editing the “made” path.
This current app has a set of useful assistive features for older people with dyslexia. It provides users with an availability to create messages for text, email, and social media. In addition, its digital overlay allows reading text through a color screen. Plus, it has a digital doc reader, which captures the text and reads it aloud.
- A camera overlay;
- A text input/output;
- A simple event organizer;
- An easy to use dictionary.
- Not the best application for learning, but still it is in development.
In the conclusion it would be fair enough to state, that technology changes and develops very fast, therefore, the new applications helping in everyday life appear every single year. The only thing, which is very important to keep in mind, is that disabled people can live the full and saturated life. With an advent of specific software, the process of integration runs faster, so the people with peculiar problems can feel the support and care.