Note: Kelly thanks Felipe Baudouin €š for this well-written article.
From educational programs on the iPhone to motivational exercise tools on the BlackBerry Z10, mobile technology has helped to make life easier for countless people across the world. The impact can be even more greatly felt by disabled people, for whom life is made not just easier but far more accessible by this type of technology.
One app that demonstrates the potential for mobile technology to help people with disabilities is the Dream Voice Reader. The software is developed by Voice Dream LLC and, although not particularly cheap at €š £6.99, does have a high quality text to speech system and is available on all platforms. The app helps to make the Internet a more accessible concept for visually impaired people and is able to read out loud Word documents, PDFs, DRM-free eBooks, articles and web pages.
Another company developing portable communication products is Assistyx. TapToTalk, designed by the company, is a free and easy-to-use app that helps to make communication simpler for people with speech affecting disorders such as autism, down syndrome and cerebral palsy. The app has an interactive, intuitive system that allows users to vocalise needs and wishes by tapping on screen pictures. There are a range of picture albums available for different situations and environments. Users can request a variety of configurations, such as different voice settings, by emailing the developers at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Parking Mobility is a very useful app for people who have physical disabilities. The app is developed by Coal Harbour Group, a company that specialises in accessibility apps for mobile devices, and allows users to find and share disabled parking locations on an interactive map. Users can also report disabled parking violations.
DisabledGo is a company that provides free access guides for disabled people, with information on a wide variety of different locations including shops, restaurants, universities, colleges and doctors surgeries. The organisation has developed DisabledGo London, an app that helps users to find out about disabled access at venues and attractions across the English capital.
Under pressure by a recent call for creative approaches to improve healthcare for people with disabilities, the National Health Service in the UK has promised to make better use of the technology available and develop pioneering ways in which to help disabled people.
This has led to the Department of Health funding a new smartphone app for charity Whizz-Kidz, the largest supplier of mobility equipment outside of the NHS. The app could help to change the lives of lots of young people with disabilities. One key feature of the app is to demonstrate to adults the correct way in which a child should be measured prior to a wheelchair assessment. This should help to greatly reduce instances of incorrect fittings, which is something that has been reported to affect over 70,000 disabled children in the UK.
The UK Government does not currently have an official mobile app available specifically for the needs of people with disabilities. However, the disability section of the government website does have information on the benefits and financial help available to disabled people in the UK, as well as rights and employment opportunities for people with disabilities.
Despite the wide range of mobile technology designed to help improve the lives of people with disabilities already available, there is still a lot of scope for improvement. With the speed that modern technology moves, the hope will be that these shortcomings can be addressed sooner rather than later and that new advancements will help to further benefit the lives of disabled people.