Smartphone Apps for the Blind and Visually Impaired


Smartphones have opened the door to a world of possibilities, far beyond what we could have imagined years ago. While they are commonly used to communicate with others, keep up with social media, and perform simple tasks, smartphones have innovations that allow accessibility and functionality to the blind and visually impaired. With the help of a smartphone, smartwatch, or tablet, the blind can virtually “see” and become more independent. 

LookTel Money Reader by IPPLEX

LookTel Money Reader can recognize multiple types of currency and speak its denomination, allowing the visually impaired to count their money. Users simply point their iOS device at the bill, take a picture with the camera, and wait for the amount to be spoken aloud to them. Before this app, the visually impaired relied on others to tell them the value of each bill, but now users can count their currency independently. 

VizWiz by ROCHCI

VizWiz is an application that allows the user to take a picture with their device and ask any question about the image. Questions can be sent to either a volunteer Web Worker, IQ Engine, email, or Twitter. Questions are typically answered within a few minutes or even seconds. This technology helps the visually impaired distinguish their surroundings. For example, the user could snap a picture of a can of food and the app would speak exactly what type of canned good it was. 

Ariadne GPS by Giovanni Ciaffoni

Ariadne GPS allows the blind to navigate their surroundings using an interface like no other. While most navigation apps require the user to use their sight to anticipate directions, Ariadne GPS has talking maps that can even signal crossing the street through vibrating. Another feature called “favorites” announces stops on public transportation, which can be helpful to those who ride the bus or train. This app works anywhere that Google Maps is available and is accessible in multiple languages. 

Color ID by GreenGar Studios

Color ID can help the blind distinguish differences in color among the objects around them. Simply point the camera at an object and the app will tell you the color based on its setting for basic colors, or its more advanced setting including specific shades and hues. This app can be used to tell what color the sky is, whether or not a fruit is ripe, and more. 

TalkingTag LV by TalkingTag

TalkingTag LV is a technology that allows the blind to label their surroundings. Special coded stickers are used to label everyday items, and when scanned allow the iOS device to replay a pre-recorded audio message. For example, one could label a toaster with one of the coded stickers, and when the phone scans the sticker the app will play a recording stating any information desired about the toaster. 

Visible Braille by Mindwarrior

Visible Braille is an app for self-paced braille instruction. It translates the English alphabet into the braille alphabet and has lessons and quizzes to help users learn quickly. This app is great for those who want to learn braille or simply translate text to braille. 

The Talking Calculator by Adam Croser 

The Talking Calculator is a calculator app that speaks button names, numbers, and answers aloud. Users can also use voice commands to record their own voice and make calculations. The app also features display modes such as low contrast and high contrast, allowing the visually impaired to adjust the settings to their preference.