Assistive Technology: Most Popular Articles
Zoom is a screen magnifier Apple has built into its Mac and iOS devices that enlarges what's displayed onscreen to make products more accessible to visually impaired users.
Mobile apps for the iPad are rapidly replacing dedicated devices for alternative & augmentative communication (AAC). In many cases, the iPad makes this technology less expensive and more accessible to persons whose physical and cognitive impairments make speech difficult.
Here are some of the top iPhone apps for blind users which, along with VoiceOver, make iOS devices accessible to persons who are visually impaired.
AppWriter is an iPad app that combines text-to-speech, word prediction, OCR scanning, and the Dyslexie-typeface to help persons with learning disabilities write more effectively.
This National Braille Press booklet profiles 22 mobile apps especially useful to blind and visually impaired iPhone users.
The Jitterbug J cell phone for seniors is easy to see, hear, and use, and provides classic comforts such as a dial tone and live operator assistance.
This article on computers for blind and visually impaired students focuses on key technologies such as screen readers and screen magnification software.
, a new guide by Judy Dixon and Doug Wakefield published by National Braille Press .This is NBP's fourth
This list features five iPad apps designed to help young people with autism and other developmental disabilities communication more effectively.
Smartpens are mini-recorders that sync spoken words with notes students write on special paper, enabling retrieval of any part of a lecture by tapping the pen’s tip on words written during class. Livescribe's Echo is among the most popular smart pens.
Assistive technology professionals can enhance both their career and quality of service to persons with disabilities by attaining RESNA (Rehabilitation Engineering and Assistive Technology Society of North America) certification.
Talking Books are audiobooks the National Library Service for Blind and Physically Handicapped records to make books accessible to print disabled readers.
The iCommunicator is an application that enables conversations between persons who are deaf and those with no hearing loss. The solution combines assistive technologies such as voice recognition, text to speech, and a database of sign language video clips that quickly translate spoken language and signs into text or speech for real-time conversations.
The most popular computer access solutions used by the blind and visually impaired, including screen readers, OCR products, screen magnifiers, and others.
Learning Ally is a free online audio book library where blind and learning disabled students can download DAISY files to their PC, MAC, or mobile device.
The University of Athens has created an online directory where persons with disabilities can download free Windows software to make their PC more accessible.
Siri is a voice-activated “personal assistant” introduced with iPhone 4S that executes tasks and retrieves information based on spoken requests.
Free or low-cost phones for persons who are deaf and hard of hearing is available through state Telecommunications Equipment Distribution Programs.
Digit-Eyes is an iOS app that scans and reads UPC and EAN bar codes and lets users make text and audio labels they can later read using their mobile device.
DAISY (Digital Accessible Information System) is a set of standards for synchronizing text, audio, and navigation files to make books accessible in multiple formats.
The National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped has 400,000+ audio, braille, and e-texts for readers with print disabilities.
This gallery highlights the wide range of devices one can use to play digital audiobooks.
The Eazy Reader Deluxe is low-vision reading aid, a digital camera that displays magnified images on a TV or LCD monitor.
Bank of America services for disabled customers include its screen-reader compatible website, talking ATMs, and bank statements in accessible formats.
The Audible app for Android and iOS devices gives blind and visually impaired readers access to 85,000+ digital audiobooks.
EyeSight from SightTech is a mobile app that turns any Apple iOS device into a portable electronic magnifier for blind and visually impaired users.
Co:Writer helps learning disabled students write by predicting words and displaying choices in a window accessible through most writing applications.
The ODIN VI is a talking mobile phone designed to be fully accessible to persons who blind or visually impaired, including seniors.
Assistive technology is expensive, but persons with disabilities have many options for funding the solutions they need, as this article outlines.
VoiceOver is a screen reader built into the operating system of all Apple OS X and iOS products that makes the machines accessible to blind and visually impaired users. VoiceOver reads text and app names aloud and provides audible cues to aid navigation.
FaceTime is video calling software from Apple that supports real-time video chatting between Mac OS X and iOS devices, including the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Dragon NaturallySpeaking 13 supports built-in PC mics and expands voice recognition to web applications such as Facebook, Twitter, Outlook, and Chrome.
Getting Started with the iPhone: An Introduction for Blind Users, by Anna Dresner and Dean Martineau is available in braille and ASCII text from National Braille Press.
The VIP PDF-Reader from the Swiss National Association of and for the Blind makes PDF files accessible to readers who are blind and visually impaired.
BARD is a website of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped (NLS) on which readers with qualifying print disabilities can download digital Talking Books and magazines to listen to on an NLS-supported audiobook player.
An assistive technology assessment -- a collaborative process conducted by teachers and IEP teams -- helps identify which adaptive devices and technologies are most likely to help a student with a learning challenge achieve their goals.
The DynaVox Maestro is a portable, electronic speech generating device that enables persons with speech disabilities to communicate using text, symbols, and synthetic speech.
Enhanced Vision’s Pebble is a portable video magnifier that enlarges from 2x to 10x and has a
SoundingBoard from AbleNet is an iOS app that enables non-verbal and speech-impaired persons, teachers, and caregivers to quickly create and link communication boards (consisting of symbols voiced via text-to-speech) to express needs, wants, and emotions in all settings and situations.
Big Launcher is a large print Android interface for seniors and people with low vision and is designed to make mobile devices easier to see and use.
The popularity of speech recognition programs such as Dragon NaturallySpeaking raise both assistive technology's image and questions about its development. Will mainstreaming the technology erode accessibility for persons with disabilities? Nuance Communications senior product manager Colleen Hendry addresses this and related topics in the following interview.
BookSense is a portable, multi-function audiobook player-recorder and document reader that supports many digital formats, including DAISY audio, MP3, WMA, and Audible books.BookSense also enables users to record memos, listen to music, and access both a clock and alarm. Page 3.
Finding accessible textbooks is crucial to academic success for many college students with disabilities. Solutions abound, but integrating them can be confusing and time-consuming. Diana Petschauer, who runs the Assistive Technology lab at the University of New Hampshire, offers four simple suggestions to help print-disabled readers find what they need quickly and consistently.
i.d. mate Quest is a portable talking bar code scanner that uses text-to-speech to make UPC data more accessible to persons with visual impairments.
“iOS 7 Without the Eye” by Jonathan Mosen from National Braille Press explores all aspects of Apple’s operating system for its mobile devices.
Closed captions are all around us. We all see them, but few people know where they come from and how vital they are to making media accessible. This FAQ provides a succinct introduction to closed captioning technology.
The Tobii I-Series are speech generating devices that facilitate computer access, environmental control, speech, and long distance communication.
The soundAMP app sends amplified sound from an iOS device's built-in mic through a listener’s earbuds to create a high-quality hearing solution.
The Kindle app gives blind readers audio access to over 1 million Kindle books, as well as newspapers, magazines, textbooks, and PDFs on their iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch.
RxmindMe is a free iOS app that enables users to enter and track prescription information and set and receive alerts when it's time to take medication. The app also tracks the number of remaining pills and provides a medication database.
Bookshare is a free online library of DAISY books that students with documented print disabilities can download as audio files.
Texthelp’s Fluency Tutor for Google is an assessment app enabling teachers to assign and score reading passages to monitor each student’s progress.
Enhanced Vision’s Amigo is a portable CCTV with 14x magnification, a “freeze frame” text capture feature, and a tilting screen for easier reading & writing.
Video magnifiers enable people with vision loss to easily enlarge newspapers, bills, bank statements, pill bottles, and photographs as much as needed for reading, writing, and viewing.
Learning Ally Audio is an mobile app that enables readers with print disabilities to access over 75,000 DAISY audiobooks -- including key texts for education levels -- on their iOS device
Dragon Dictate for Mac is easy to install. The speech recognition software walks you through the process of creating a user profile and training your voice. Within 20 minutes, you can write documents and control many of your Mac applications using voice commands alone.
Texthelp Systems' Fluency Tutor is an online application that enables students to improve their reading fluency by providing written passages appropriate to grade level students can listen to, practice, record, and be graded on. Fluency Tutor also has built-in quizzes, literacy tools such as a dictionary and translator, and graphing tools to track progress.
Communications apps enable autistic and other non-verbal persons to generate speech by pressing images or typing words on their iOS device.
Project RAY and Odin Mobile offer America’s first accessible smartphone and full cell coverage designed specifically for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Lingraphica develops augmentative and alternative communications technology -- notably speech generating devices -- designed to help persons with aphasia and related disorders limiting one's ability to speak or process language
Dragon Dictate for Mac 4 voice recognition software now enables the automatic transcription of spoken content from prerecorded audio files.
The iPad is especially accessible to blind & visually impaired students and -- says Tara Mason -- is a remarkably robust, low-cost, low-vision aid.
This article outlines accessibility features in Apple OS X and iOS devices for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
Turn on Closed Captions on your Windows Media Player to make videos more accessible, especially to those who are deaf, hard of hearing, or who struggle to decipher what's being said.
iLearnNEarn is an education app -- a mobile version of Shanesh COLORS -- designed to teach children with autism and other learning disabilities.
Windows mouse keys enable users with limited dexterity to move the pointer by pressing keys on the keyboard’s number pad.
Some of the most life-changing applications of assistive technology are the devices and adaptations providing access to sports and recreation. This list looks at five products designed for persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Music Zoom is an iPad app that integrates with a foot switch to let visually impaired musicians scroll through enlarged sheet music as they play.
The iPod touch has several built-in features that make it accessible to users who are blind or visually impaired. These include the VoiceOver screen reader, Zoom magnification, Voice Control, and a high-contrast white-on-black display option.
VisionAssist is an iOS app from Slinkyware that turns one's iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch into an electronic video magnifier to help persons with visual impairments make text and images larger, clearer, and thus easier to see. The app provides most of the same functions and features found in portable CCTVs, such as Enhanced Vision's Pebble.
Nuance has released Dargon NaturallySpeaking 12, the latest version of its popular voice recognition software that enables users to create content, control their PC, compose email, and browse the web using just their voice.
Bookshare offers free online books in DAISY format. Free memberships enable print disabled students to download any of the 175,000 digital audiobooks.
The FCC's iCanConnect campaign seeks to educate the public on the range of free and low-cost communications products available to persons with vision and hear loss -- a provision of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA).
The following FAQ provides an introduction to the main accessibility features built into the Microsoft Windows operating system.
Blind and visually impaired persons can bank safely online using a screen reader to access and navigate each section of a bank’s website.
ZoomReader is a reading app developed by Ai Squared that enables visually impaired iOS users to magnify text, scan and extract text from images and hear it read aloud, and email or copy text they wish to share.
sitecues is an SaaS (Software as a Service) solution that lets organizations deploy reading tools and magnification to make websites more accessible.
Dragon Dictate 2.5 for Mac is voice recognition software that lets OS X and iOS users write and edit text with their voice.
Apple’s iOS 7 has enhanced the switch control capabilities, enabling persons with mobility impairments to access their entire device using switches.
The Victor Reader Stream from HumanWare is a pocket-sized DAISY book and multimedia player designed to help persons with print disabilities -- including visual impairments and dyslexia -- to access and read texts in alternative formats.
The Read2Go mobile app for the Apple iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch gives print-disabled readers access to Bookshare's online library of over 125,000 DAISY books. Readers can listen to the book being read, enlarge the text, read along as words are highlighted, or access text on a refreshable braille display.
Avaz is a picture-based augmentative communication app for Android & iOS that helps nonverbal children develop language and communication skills.
The Victor Reader Stream plays e-Books and DAISY and audiobooks for the blind one can download for free from online sources such as Bookshare.
Read&Write for Google Docs is a free Chrome extension that integrates many tools from Read&Write GOLD literacy software and enables real-time, cloud-based collaboration on Google documents in the Chrome web browser.
The SpeakEasy is a simple, standalone reading machine that reads aloud the text from any scanned document using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and text-to-speech technology. It provides an immediate reading solution for seniors and those who are blind or visually impaired. Page 2.
The ODIN VI Talking Mobile Phone provides numerous settings that can make its display and menus more accessible to users with visual impairments.
Orbit Research and the American Printing House for the Blind (APH) have developed the the Orion TI-84 Plus, the world’s first graphing calculator accessible to blind and visually impaired math students.
Ola Mundo Messenger is a remote (AAC) app designed to help autistic and nonverbal children communicate with family members, teachers, and friends.
Speech generating devices (SGDs) give nonverbal persons tools to communicate, e.g. word & symbol libraries they can tap and voice via text to speech.
The American Sign Language (ASL) Dictionary App for iOS and Android devices provides video definitions for over 5,200 signed words in a searchable list.
Chad Udell of Float Mobile Learning feels tablets such as the iPad have fundamentally changed how we interact with the world and offer special needs students unprecedented access to assistive technology that enables them to learn.
Since 1927, National Braille Press has made information accessible to blind readers by producing braille books, pamphlets and periodicals. Through its many programs, NBP champions braille literacy and the development and improvement of assistive that increases tactile literacy and promotes the use of braille.
The VisioBook from BAUM Retec AG is a portable video magnifier that enables visually impaired people to enlarge text and images for reading and distance viewing.
Texthelp’s Read&Write GOLD is educational software designed to improve writing skills and reading comprehension among students with learning disabilities.
RoboBraille is a free online service that converts text documents into braille or audio files. Users
DynaVox Mayer-Johnson is a leading developer of speech generating devices and other augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) technologies.
ViA is an iOS app from the Braille Institute that aggregates information and reviews on apps designed for users who are blind or visually impaired.
The Optelec ClearView+ Speech is a desktop video magnifier featuring an interactive touchscreen and a “point and read” function enabling users to touch parts of documents to hear the text read aloud.
The MotivAider clips to a belt or pocket like a phone pager and vibrates at preset intervals to help users maintain focus and develop or reinforce more productive habits. The device is designed to help modify behavior in students with learning disabilities or ADHD.
Video description narrates key visual elements blind viewers may miss to make broadcast and online media more accessible to viewers with visual impairments.
oMoby is an app that provides product information on photo or bar code searches users click or scan with their mobile device. The app uses IQ Engine's VisionIQ platform, originally designed for persons who are blind, and now used by companies to add visual search capabilities to apps.
This interview discusses how the University of New Hampshire’s disability services trains students on adaptive devices at its Assistive Technology Lab.
The SpeakEasy Reading Machine is a low-vision aid that reads scanned documents aloud, giving seniors private access to virtually all reading material.
Reading Kindle Books on Your iOS Device from National Braille Press shows blind readers how to purchase, download, and listen to Kindle content on iOS.
The Insignia Narrator Advanced HD Radio has voice activated controls and is designed to enable blind and visually impaired people to more easily access radio reading services in their area.
Windows free On-Screen keyboard provides an alternative input method for users, especially those with mobility impairments, who are unable to use a standard keyboard.
Apple's iPod touch gets less hype than the iPhone 4S and iPad 3, yet it provides nearly all the same features and accessibility found found on those iOS devices -- including web access and video chat -- for a fraction of the price.
Purple Communications’ customer care director Diana Herron discusses how video relay service increases career options for deaf and hard-of-hearing persons.
The iPhone has changed expectations for how much assistive technology for blind persons should cost, says VIBUG president Amy Ruell in this 2011 interview.
The following review looks at En-Vision America's ScripTalk Station Reader, a device that reads aloud prescription information on pill bottles using radio-frequency identification and text-to-speech. ScripTalk is designed for people who have difficulty reading pill bottles, including seniors, and persons who are blind or visually impaired.
Praveen Gorakavi, an Indian inventor, has created a low-cost mechanical braillewriter to promote literacy among blind people in developing nations.
MegaTunes Player is a music player app for iOS that displays all songs, artists, playlists, compilations and Podcasts in large, high-contrast text.
RocketKeys is an AAC app for iPad that enables users to customize keyboards to type faster and generate spontaneous speech more efficiently.
HumanWare’s Prodigi Duo is a 2-in-1 video magnifier that combines a desktop CCTV with a detachable camera that functions as a handheld (tablet) magnifier
The EqualEyes Accessibility app is a suite of mini-applications built into a high-contrast interface that makes Android devices more accessible.
CommunicAide is customizable AAC app for iPad by Hope4Speech for persons with aphasia, apraxia, dementia, and Neurologically impaired speech.
Enhanced Vision’s Merlin ultra is a high-definition video magnifier that makes text and images easier to see for persons who are visually impaired.
Prentke-Romich Company (PRC) is a leading innovator of alternative and augmentative communication devices that facilitate full language development for persons with physical and cognitive impairments that make speech difficult.
AbleNet creates products and software that give persons with physical and cognitive disabilities greater access to communications and computer technology. The company's 800+ assistive technology products are designed to enhance independence and quality of life for persons with special learning needs.
iChat, built into Apple OS X, enables users to talk via text, voice, or video, making it an efficient communications option for people who are deaf or hard of hearing.
InnerVoice is an AAC app that animates an autistic child’s photos so it speaks words and phrases to increase engagement and teach target skills.
For Daniel Saynuk, who is blind, the iPhone is not only accessible, but an integral part of daily life, performing key functions and providing information -- from the correct time to currency identification -- where and when he needs them.
Once oriented with the ODIN VI Talking Mobile Phone, a blind or visually impaired user can start calling, adding contacts, and checking the call log.
The Victor Reader Stream Library Edition supports most digital audio file formats, including DAISY, which is used to record structured, navigable audiobooks for readers who struggle to read standard print.
Magnification apps use a device’s built-in camera, light, and processor to emulate the functions of handheld video magnifiers -- a key low vision aid.
In this interview, Dr. Therese Willkomm, director of Assistive Technology in New Hampshire (ATinNH), discusses her approach to ad hoc innovations that have made her the “MacGyver” of assistive technology.
PDFpen enables users to edit, annotate, and combine Portable Document Format (PDF) files, providing readers with print disabilities and teachers greater access and flexibility working with electronic texts used in education.
The Transformer from Enhanced Vision is a portable video magnifier that can serve as a desktop and distance reading aid for visually impaired students.
Read&Write for Google is a suite of literacy tools designed to help struggling students improve skills and make Google Apps for Education more accessible.
Central Access Reader (CAR) is a free text-to-speech program that recognizes mathematical notations & symbols that most screen readers don't support.
ScanJig is a stand made from lightweight polymer board designed for aligning mobile devices for image and document scanning.
The RNIB PenFriend Audio Labeler enables blind persons to organize objects by recording notes on corresponding scannable stickers for later replay.
AbleData is an online database containing over 40,000 assistive technology products as well as information on vendors, services, and organizations dedicated to helping persons with disabilities, rehabilitation professionals, and caregivers in the United States.
Braille is a language of raised dots that enables blind persons to read and write. Louis Braille developed the symbolic language in the 1820s. Despite the Internet, braille remains the primary means of literacy for over 180 million blind people around the world.
Read&Write for Google, a suite of literacy tools from Texthelp, provides a powerful word prediction engine accessible when working with Google Docs.
The BARD Mobile app lets qualified National Library Service for the Blind & Physically Handicapped users play braille and Talking Books on their iOS device.
Fotobabble is a website and mobile app that enables blind and visually impaired people record audio captions to digital photos and share them instantly.
No mobile app or device can raise braille dots, but that doesn't mean blind people can't use braille to run their smart phone or tablet. The BraillePen 12 and BraillePen Slim are Bluetooth braille keyboards that give users hands-free access to and control over popular Apple iOS, Nokia, and Windows Mobile devices.
This is a profile of En-Vision America, Inc., which makes assistive technology for the blind and visually impaired. The company is based in Normal, Illinois.
Low Vision Center is an iPad app from MeltedSpork that provides large print and a high-contrast background for viewing one’s Calendar and Contacts.
ZoomText Mac, developed by Ai Squared, is screen magnification software for the Mac (OS X 10.7 and up). The program also provides enhancement tools to adjust contrast, maintain clarity to enlarged text (font smoothing), and make the cursor and mouse pointer easier to locate.
The Seeing Eye GPS™ is an accessible turn-by-turn GPS app for iOS for blind persons whose features include simple, VoiceOver compatible navigation.
The i.d. mate OMNI talking barcode scanner enables blind shoppers to hear details on over 2.3 million products in its database.
The Microsoft DisAbility Scholarship funds academic or vocational programs enabling high school seniors with disabilities to pursue technology careers.
SoundGecko is a free service that converts web articles into audio MP3 files, providing readers with print disabilities -- such as visual impairments or dyslexia -- a convenient way to make online content more accessible.
Earl is a voice-controlled iOS app that reads newspapers, magazines, and website articles aloud to persons with print disabilities, especially persons who are blind or visually impaired.
MathPad is a program for Mac and Windows that enables students to organize, format, and solve basic math problems on their computer. MathPad provides audio feedback and auto-navigation that can help students who struggle to do math on paper.
In this interview, Suzanne Robitaille, founder of abledbody.com and author of The Illustrated Guide to Assistive Technology & Devices, discusses recent advances in communications technology for persons who are deaf or hard of hearing.
The Student E-rent Pilot Project (STEPP) enables blind & LD students to rent digital college textbooks at half price they can read in an accessible format.
MBraille is an iOS app for an onscreen keyboard that lets blind users tweet and send text messages using contracted or uncontracted English braille.