5 of the best apps for people with sight loss

Last year we launched our iPad and iPhone training courses in the North East and North West. They have proved hugely popular and have given people living with sight loss the opportunity to access technology that is changing their day to day lives.

john from Liverpool

The three week introductory course allows people to trial the equipment in detail before they buy, followed by user-led support sessions for an additional eight weeks for those who intend to purchase their own iPad or iPhone. Sessions include guidance on a huge range of subjects, including accessibility features, adjusting the settings to suit different eye conditions, sending and receiving calls, text messages and emails, social networking, using the camera, using maps, as well as exploring useful tips, tricks and more sophisticated applications.

Apple have made a big investment in accessibility with magnification, voiceover support (which lets your device read text and menus aloud to you) and voice commands supported straight out of the box.  The built-in accessibility tools are just the tip of the iceberg and there are some great apps to help those with a visual impairment get the most out of their devices.

MacLife has compiled a list of the best Apps for people with sight loss, and we have chosen our top five from them:

1. TapTapSee

(free, iPhone)

This App describes the world around you. Simply double-tap on the screen and it will take a photo that gets uploaded to its servers for processing.  A few seconds later, assuming everything worked, the voiceover assistant provides an impressively detailed and accurate description, such as “Keyboard on white desk with glass mug.”

2. Fleksy

(free, universal)

The built-in iOS keyboard can be a nightmare to use with bad vision or voiceover, and you can’t always rely on ‘Siri’; this is where Fleksy steps in.  Fleksy is a typing app with big keys, gestures, favourites and a stellar predictive-text engine that makes writing emails, messages, tweets and Facebook updates a breeze, no matter what your visual acuity.

3. Audiobooks from Audible

(free, universal)

You can play and sync your Amazon-bought audiobooks, as well as any audiobooks from the iTunes Store that are on your device. Chapter selection, bookmarking, speed controls and voiceover support make it the best choice for the job.

4. BlindSquare

(£16.99, universal)

Although this App is expensive, the benefits of it to people with sight loss may well be priceless.  It uses your GPS or Wi-Fi to locate you, and then draws on Foursquare to find nearby places and people of interest, with lots of categories and a maximum distance slider to narrow down the selection; BlindSquare can then help you get there or make contact.  (Uses OpenStreet data so is available in the UK.)

5. Colour ID

(free, universal)

This App uses your device’s camera to identify the colour of a point in front of you, with a crosshair so small that even a remote control could be labelled several different colours depending on the precise angle. Colours described are either a combination of common colour names or fancy words found on tins of paint.

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