Accessible Mobile Apps

The best mobile apps are the ones that solve a real problem. The apps that demonstrate the true power of mobile are the ones helping empower disadvantaged groups.

It is truly encouraging to see a growing suite of mobile tools being developed that are helping empower people with physical disabilities or some form of impairment, creating a more accessible world.

EasySMS is a mobile app created by Elsa Friscira and Hendrik Knoche, a professor from EPFL in Lausanne specializing in accessible mobile interface design. EasySMS helps an illiterate user construct a sentence visually using pictures, reading back the sentence before the user sends the message. Upon receiving a new message, it reads the message aloud. The brilliance behind the text-to-speech is that you could be having a SMS conversation with a person who is completely illiterate, and not even know it.

LookTel is a suite of mobile apps that bring the most powerful recognition technology to the aid of persons with low vision or blindness. LookTel Recognizer provides powerful object recognition and LookTel Money helps identify the currency of bills or coins. LookTel’s upcoming products will help identify landmarks and text reader. These apps are literally helping the blind to see.

Fleksy is a predictive iOS keyboard for the visually impaired people helping quickly and easily type text. Fleksy is a revolutionary approach to thinking about accessibility on mobile devices. For the first time ever, blind and visually impaired people can quickly and easily type text on touch screen phones and tablets.

OnTheBus is a mobile app helping people with physical disability, visual or hearing impairment to have an more accessible experience using public transit. Given a destination, the app offers a set of optimal paths to choose from. Having chosen one, the application guides the user from the point where he or she is to the bus stop. At this point, the system informs the user of the time left for the bus to get there. Once on the bus, the user will receive information from the bus stops he or she goes by and advised of when to press the buzzer to get off at the next stop.

What are your favorite mobile apps helping make the world more accessible?