I walked the hall at ATIA 2011 in Orlando, FL specifically looking for apps for iPads, iPhones, and iPod touches (iOS devices) that simplify life for individuals with disabilities and exemplify the convergence between consumer and assistive devices. At first, I wasn’t sure how many I would find, but it didn’t take long to discover quite a few. As a technology user since the very early days of the Apple II+, I have watched applications and uses of technology continually descend to the lowest common denominator, to the cheapest, smallest platform available. The trend is happening again with the Apple mobile platforms, followed soon by Droid-enabled devices.
This fact, smaller, ubiquitous, accessible devices, is wonderful news for individuals with disabilities. Adding to the good news is the reduction in what we at Benetech (the parent nonprofit for Bookshare) call the “disability tax,” or the fact that technologies for individuals with disabilities have had astronomical prices due to the small size of the market.
Here’s what I saw, and while I don’t have all the prices for these new apps, I wouldn’t have included them in this blog if the prices were astronomical.
ZoomReader from AiSquared, $19.99, is a combination video magnifier and portable electronic reader for the iPhone or iPod touch from the company behind ZoomText. ZoomReader will take a picture of a document using the camera in the iOS devices, enlarge the text to the size needed by those with low vision or convert the text to speech and read it back. Menus, restaurant receipts, you name it, are now accessible.
Proloquo2Go, an augmentative communication app “provides a full-featured communication solution for people who have difficulty speaking. It brings natural sounding text-to-speech voices, up-to-date symbols, powerful automatic conjugations, a default vocabulary of over 7000 items, full expandability and extreme ease of use to the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad.” http://www.proloquo2go.com/
Community Sidekick, from AbleLink Technologies, allows a parent, loved one or caregiver to track the movements of an individual with cognitive disabilities in the community. The app, completely configurable by a parent or caregiver, sends messages to the support person about the location of the individual. It also enables other simple communications. AbleLink has other apps for individuals with cognitive disabilities; to find out more, please visit their website http://www.ablelinktech.com/.….
iCommunicate from Grembe faciliites communication with nonverbal individuals with disabilities, such as those with autism. The app lets you create pictures, flashcards, storyboards, routines, and visual schedules. You can use text-to-speech or record custom audio in any language. You can use any of the built-in pictures or add your own with your camera, or camera roll, or Google image search. Grembe has other apps as well. http://www.grembe.com/home/icommunicate
Read2Go, $19.99. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the announced Read2Go app from Benetech that generated much excitement within the exhibit hall, and please note that in order not to appear biased, I saved it to last. Read2Go connects directly to Bookshare, and lets readers search, download and read Bookshare books, and books from some other sources, from within the app. Learn more about Read2Go or add your name to the list to be notified when it becomes available.