The Apple iOS free Shortcuts app can be used to make many tasks one step easier. If you go to the Apple store you can download the ShortCuts app
Several websites have commented on how useful it is, and AbilityNet provided an early review about how Siri can be used in additional ways with this app. It makes it possible to combine several steps into one automated step using the Shortcuts Widget or just asking Siri.
There is a gallery of shortcuts and one of them is a universal clipboard that allows you to dictate content using Siri for pasting into any other app or sending a message, email etc with just one command.
According to Stuart Ball this free Seeing AI iPhone or iPad app has multiple benefits for those with visual impairments or who are blind. It has been developed by Microsoft so has the ‘swiss army knife approach’ according to AccessWorld to telling you about the world around you. It searches out light sources, identifies colours and money and describes them using text to speech. It will recognise a person is approaching and offer a description. Barcodes can be read and optical character recognition is used for documents etc. Clear handwriting can be deciphered and scenes described.
The free overTHERE iPhone app has been called a ‘game changer’ by Stuart Ball as it allows places to be located via their signs by holding the phone in a horizontal manner. You can then simply turn around on the spot and listen as businesses/shops are brought to your attention. It also tells you how far away they are from where you are standing. According to the app developer it is an “accessibility app that helps blind individuals explore and interact with the surrounding environment by using virtual audible signs.”
“When the phone is held vertically you can use the screen or VoiceOver to review the list of signs around you. By selecting a sign from the list you can access details about a location such as its address, phone number, or web site.”
Office lens is a free app available on an iPhone, Android and Window smartphone that links to One Drive accounts and allows you to take photographs and put them straight into Microsoft Office applications. The really good thing about Office Lens is that when I take a picture of a presentation or whiteboard I can make sure it is exactly the right shape and is straight not set at an angle using the outline on the screen by selecting the document or whiteboard menu item.
Making sure the image is straight for OCR
That is really important if you are taking photos of text that you want to have read aloud later. If they appear out of focus or at an odd angle you will not be able to use Optical Character Recognition (OCR), to have the image converted to text so you can use a text to speech or screen reader application later on. Once you have taken your photo you choose which application you want to send it to and if this is Microsoft Word it will extract the text. The other options are your photos on the phone, OneNote, OneDrive, PowerPoint and Outlook or your phone mail if you want to send it as an email attachment. The app will also save it as a PDF.
Ready for exporting
The best thing I like about Office Lens is how it is linked to OneNote because I can collect all the images, notes and presentations, even photos of handwritten notes straight into my Notes folder and then I can search for them at any time, as I really have trouble remembering what I have heard in lectures etc and this process acts as a back up .
The Boogie Board is the equivalent to an electronic Etch a Sketch but instead of turning two horizontal and vertical knobs you are able to use a stylus. I currently use the device to write out a To Do list every day. Other family members use it in the kitchen to write out shopping lists because it has magnets that allow it to attach to the fridge. Furthermore, the Boogie Board allows you to write or draw while the device is switched off. This current model could do with the means to be able to erase sections of the writing/drawing area and Bluetooth connection to allow ‘screen’ captures to be sent to a computer or other mobile device. It also does not guard against unwanted mark making The Boogie Board Sync eWriter allows all of these suggested features except for currently erasing specific areas. There is also a mobile app that allows you to connect with your writing by providing access to your notes, lists, drawings and brainstorms.
Neil – PhD in mobile accessibility and academic etexts